Swiss envoy: Can’t work with stolen data, fishing expeditions
Swiss Ambassador to India Linus von Castelmur on Wednesday said it would not be possible for his government to work with stolen data and entertain “fishing expeditions” while dealing with the issue of tracing Indian black money holders.
“We signed a double tax avoidance treaty with India in 2011 that stipulates legal assistance for tax evasion cases. We are fully aligned with that. This is conditional and it is stipulated that we can’t work with so-called fishing expeditions. You can’t come and say we would like to have all the names of account holders in Switzerland, that’s not possible for US, Germany or India. We have decided that we can’t work with stolen data,” he said.
Spelling out the steps being taken by the government to recover black money, finance minister Arun Jaitley had recently referred to the list of 627 account holders — suspected to be stolen from HSBC — received by the government and said identity of 427 of them has been established.
Of this, 250 of them have admitted to having accounts, making the government’s task easier, he had said.
“Once somebody has obtained data improperly or illegally, Switzerland can’t honour this kind of claim. We can only work when they raise through Indian investigative agencies and tax authorities… when they have clear prima facie evidence of tax fraud. There we extend full co-operation. Our national law doesn’t allow us to entertain fishing expeditions,” Castelmur said.
Talking to The Indian Express, Castelmur said, “We fully understand and appreciate India’s concern on the matter. One part of the issue is dealing with the past. Switzerland was a destination for several decades where money flew in from different sources and that was always not taxed money.”