As India continues its pursuit of black money allegedly stashed abroad, Switzerland has said it would not entertain any ‘fishing expedition’ and authorities cannot ask for names of all Indian account holders in Swiss banks without doing their own independent investigations.
Switzerland’s ambassador to India Linus von Castelmur also said the past cannot be undone, while promising full support of his country in cases where at least some proof is provided on tax frauds.
He, however, agreed that all the money deposited in Swiss banks might not have always been ‘taxed money’ in the past, as Switzerland was a major destination for several decades when money would flow in from different sources.
The ambassador said cooperation by Swiss authorities cannot take place on the basis of stolen lists of account holders and would need independent probes by Indian agencies and at least a prima facie proof of tax frauds.
“We understand and appreciate India’s concerns on the matter. We need clear understanding on the issue,” Castelmur said.
“I think one part of the issue is dealing with the past and Switzerland was destination for several decades where money flowed in from difference sources and that was no always a tax money,” he said.
“When we look from present and future, we see that problem will be solved,” said Castelmur, who was here for an award function where industrialist Azim Premji was given a Swiss honour for inspirational and socially responsible leadership.
The issue of black money suspected to be stashed abroad, including in Swiss banks, has been a matter of intense debate in India for years.
The matter has been in focus recently with the opposition parties accusing the government of going back on its promise to bring back black money from overseas within 100 days of its coming to power.
A Supreme Court monitored Special Investigation Team is looking into ways to tackle the black money menace, while the government recently said it has reached a major breakthrough in the form of a new agreement with the Swiss authorities for cooperation on sharing of details about alleged black money holders in Swiss banks.