Another government, another list. UPA II got a similar list in 2011, but nothing came out of it. So will the Modi 2.0 take action or will the list be forgotten with time?
Fight against corruption was earlier a people’s phantasm. Modi government used this gospel truth in their political manifesto. Consequently, with Swiss Bank Data to be exchanged, it is significant success in the Modi Government’s fight against black money.
On 31st August, Income Tax Department in a tweet said, “India will receive information of the calendar year 2018 in respect of all financial accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland. Also, this will be a significant step in the Government’s fight against black money as the era of Swiss bank secrecy will finally be over”.
What Modi 2.0 will do with Swiss Bank data?
In a meeting held on 29th and 30th August at New Delhi between the Swiss delegation led by Nicolas Mario Luscher, Deputy Head of Tax Division, State Secretary for International Finance and Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Revenue Secretary, and Senior official of CBDT (Centre Board of Direct Taxes).
Further, the Department also mentioned, “In this meeting, both sides discussed bilateral exchange of information matters to expedite execution of tax information-sharing requests made by India in specific cases. Enhancing collaboration in offshore tax compliance matters also discussed.”
This move has been facilitated by the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) regime signed between India and Switzerland in 2016. As a result, the first AEOI on financial account under Common Reporting Standard (CRS) started on 1st September.
No info on Corruption before 2018
Under the agreement, India will not be receiving any information before 2018, which is a serious concern as most of the corruption cases that India saw were during the UPA government’s rule like Commonwealth Games scam, coal scam, 2G scam, and there are more in the row.
What about accounts closed prior to 2018
This list will also include information related to bank account closure in 2018, but what about those accounts that have closed prior to 2018. Many people could have taken precautionary measure when Modi Government initiated the talk with Switzerland Government.
- In 2011, The UPA government received 782 Indian names who had accounts in HSBC bank of Geneva Branch, Switzerland, but the finance ministry decided against revealing the names. Later they confirmed that no current members of parliament were on the list.
- In 2012, CBI said that Indians illegally transferred around US $500 billion in tax haven countries (estimate based on a statement made in Supreme Court in 2011). However, in the same year, Swiss National Bank estimated that the total amount deposited by Indians only accounts was US $2 billion which was later confirmed by the Switzerland government on the request of the Indian government.
- As per Wikipedia, in March 2018, Indian black money in Swiss Bank and other offshore banks is estimated at US $1500 billion.
- In 2015, The Indian Express released a list of 1195 Indian account holders of HSBC (2007) amounting to Rs. 25,420 crore. Among them, many were the top corporates, politicians, diamond traders and NRIs.
In 2011, when people of India condemned the UPA government’s impotency for not taking any step to enquire against the names and no reports were published in the public domain. Now it is NDA’s turn whether to deal with this erroneous situation. Will Modi 2.0 follow UPA’s path on the Swiss Bank data or bring the money back and punish the defaulters. Consequently, it remains to be seen.