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Black money issue: Indian, Swiss officials to meet soon

New Delhi/Berne: Indian and Swiss government officials are expected to meet in the coming weeks as both countries seek to address issues revolving around alleged black money stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks.

This could possibly be the first high level meeting of officials from the two countries after a new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May. The government has stated that it will make all efforts to bring back illicit wealth parked by its citizens in foreign jurisdictions.

"There will be a meeting of government officials within the next weeks," a Federal Department of Finance spokesperson told PTI from Berne, but did not disclose any specific details.

Switzerland has been refusing to share details on names obtained by Indian authorities through other countries, namely France and Germany, saying they figured in lists stolen by certain ex-employees of the concerned banks and no details can be shared on the basis of illegally-obtained information.

A high-level delegation from Switzerland had held discussions on tax matters with Indian government officials in New Delhi in February this year.

Earlier, the Swiss government had invited Indian delegation to visit Switzerland for discussing tax matters.

"As written to the Indian government, the Swiss government would like to welcome a delegation of administration officials from India to discuss further cooperation in tax matters in Berne, after the talks in February 2014 in India," a Federal Department of Finance had said in July.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in July, had informed Parliament that Switzerland has raised some legal issues with regard to providing details of Indian citizens who have parked illegal funds in Swiss banks.

Asserting that the government was making all efforts to get details of such accounts, Jaitley had also said it was collecting evidence in this regard.

After amendments were made to the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) with Switzerland in October 2011, India has made several requests seeking information about its nationals holding bank accounts in Swiss banks.

Swiss National Bank data showed that total money of Indians in Swiss banks increased to Rs 14,100 crore at the end of 2013, from Rs 8,547 crore a year ago.

Meanwhile, a Special Investigation Team (SIT), chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice M B Shah, is looking into the menace of black money.

Separately, Switzerland has started a process to put in place the necessary framework for automatic exchange of information on tax matters with the US, European Union and "further selected countries". 

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