Cannes: Warning that tax evasion and illicit flows have become a "serious" problem, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday asked the G-20 to send a strong message to curb such activities.
With the issue of black money stashed abroad by Indians being used to target his government by the Opposition, Singh said the world`s 20 leading economies currently meeting here for their sixth summit should take the lead in agreeing to automatic exchange of tax related information with each other without any discrimination for tax evasion or fraud.
"The G-20 should send a strong message to curb such activity (tax evasion and illicit flows)," the Prime Minister said during his intervention at the Summit in this French coastal resort.
"G-20 countries should take the lead in agreeing to automatic exchange of tax related information with each other, irrespective of artificial distinctions such as past or present, for tax evasion or tax fraud in the spirit of our London Summit that `the era of bank secrecy is over`."
Leaders of the G-20 nations at their 2009 London Summit declared that "the era of banking secrecy is over" and called for the immediate publication of a list of countries that fell short of international standards and threatened to take action against "non-co-operative jurisdictions, including tax havens".
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said several G-20 leaders have endorsed India`s call to G-20 to clamp down on tax havens.
He said there has been a considerable progress on this issue compared to five years back and that there is much more access to information now on tax frauds.
India`s concerns on the tax haven issue are likely to be reflected in the communique of the G-20 Summit Friday.
The issue has been on the agenda of G-20 for the last two years and India expects strong statements from the grouping on it during the ongoing summit being attended by world leaders like US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ahluwalia told reporters.
Indian tax enforcement agencies are probing details of black money stashed abroad by several Indians, including politicians and businessmen, on the basis of information received about secret accounts with a multi-national bank in Geneva.
The probe includes searches on some of the individuals figuring in the secret accounts said to be running into some hundreds and involving money to the tune of around Rs 3,000 crore, according to official sources.
They said the accounts were mainly traced to HSBC bank in Geneva but declined to disclose whether information about them was passed on to India by France.