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India to get banking info from Switzerland

New Delhi: In a development that will boost the fight against black money menace, Switzerland has agreed to provide details of secret bank accounts of individuals sought by India even on the basis of limited information. Under a mutual agreement reached on April 20 between the two countries, Switzerland has agreed to give liberal interpretation to the provisions concerning identities of Indian citizens.

"… it is sufficient if the requesting state identifies the person by other means than by indicating the name and address of the person concerned, and indicates to the extent known, the name and address of any person believed to be in possession of the requested information," a Finance Ministry release said today. Under the existing bilateral treaty, the requesting country has to compulsorily provide the name of the person under examination and the name of the foreign holder of the information. These are part of the identity requirements without which the information would not be shared by the other country.

"This was a restrictive provision and not in line with the international standards," the release said. The agreement was signed under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries. "This agreement is beneficial to India because it gives liberal interpretation to the identity requirements for exchange of information which India will be seeking from Switzerland and is in line with international standards," the release said. The pact would allow liberal interpretation of Article 26, concerning exchange of information.

"The conditions as clarified by Switzerland, will enable India to get information even if we have only limited details regarding the person having bank accounts in Switzerland," the release said. India had inked the pact with Switzerland to revise their bilateral taxation treaty in August 2010. The revised treaty was approved by Swiss Parliament on June 17 last year. The new agreement was signed by Sanjay Kumar Mishra Joint Secretary (Foreign Tax & Tax Research division), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Juerg Giraudi, Head of Division of International Tax Affairs, Swiss Federal Department of Finance.

The Cabinet had earlier approved the mutual pact on March 23. "… this mutual agreement will apply from the date on which the amending Protocol which was signed on August 30, 2010, has come into effect April 1, 2011," the release said. As per data from the Swiss National Bank, the total deposits of Indian individuals and companies in Swiss banks stood at about USD 2.5 billion at the end of 2010.

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