India has independent evidence on black money cases: Jaitley

Jaitley, who met his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf for about 40 minutes late last night, said Switzerland has agreed to act expeditiously on such cases.

Davos: Fighting the menace of black money stashed abroad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said India has gathered independent evidence about its citizens having unaccounted money in Swiss banks and Switzerland has offered full co-operation in sharing of information in this regard.

Jaitley, who met his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf for about 40 minutes late last night, said Switzerland has agreed to act expeditiously on such cases.

To curb the black money problem, Jaitley said that India would be entering into bilateral pacts with Switzerland and other countries for automatic exchange of tax information.

"Now we do have independent evidence and material available. So, now we have to come back to Switzerland with that material on the basis of which we can get (the information)," the Finance Minister said after meeting his Swiss counterpart.

According to Jaitley, Switzerland has assured that on the basis of such independent information "they will cooperate".

Jaitley said the global community is moving towards automatic exchange of information.

Switzerland has agreed to share information expeditiously on black money cases where independent evidence is furnished, he said.

About the meeting with his Swiss counterpart, Jaitley said they discussed about the parameters based on which Switzerland can provide details on unaccounted money parked in Swiss bank accounts once independent evidence is furnished.

In October last year, both countries had inked a joint statement of understanding with regard to cooperation on tax matters. However, Switzerland has a clear position that information based on stolen data would not be shared with another country but such requests would be looked into in case of independent evidence on the same being made available.

In continuation with that agreement, Jaitley said he had a detailed meeting with the Swiss delegation as to what could be the parameters of that independent evidence.

"Of course, our tax officials are working round the clock. They are trying to finish all the assessments and they are trying to collect evidence. Several people in that list have already admitted to the fact that they had accounts.

"Now we do have independent evidence and material available. So, now we have to come back to Switzerland with that material on the basis of which we can get (the information)," the Finance Minister said.

As part of efforts to repatriate illicit wealth stashed by its citizens abroad, India has been in discussions with Switzerland and other countries.

"Switzerland has decided to become an early bird to join that grouping. There were some issues related to India due to the Supreme Court. Now I think that has been resolved and we are also moving in the direction of joining that group.

"Once both of us join that group, then we are supposed to join in a bilateral agreement with regard to automatic exchange of tax information. Once we do such bilaterals with various countries, I think that would be the long term solution to check this menace," Jaitley said.

Earlier the concept was that people will stash money in Swiss banks but nobody will be able to break into that system, he noted.

Switzerland has been evolving its position all these years and therefore they have started cooperating with various states, he added.

In October last year, Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das had led a team to Switzerland and both sides signed a joint statement of understanding.

"The Swiss have a clear position that we will not give you any information on the basis of stolen data... If you come with stolen data, we will not cooperate. Our position now is that in case -- that is an alternate position and not a preferred position," Jaitley said.

"We are eager to give you independent evidence, independent of the fact that names of these people figure in a stolen list. Now on the basis of this independent evidence will you give us information that is what we asked Switzerland," he said.

So, they agreed on October 15 that they will give it and they will do it expeditiously, Jaitley said.

"These were the subjects that I discussed with them (Swiss delegation). The Swiss Minister also discussed the issue of economic cooperation," he said.

Jaitley had a hectic schedule yesterday and held meetings with his counterpart from Brazil Joaquim Levy, among others.

With Levy, he discussed issues related to the BRICS grouping. Other countries in the bloc are China, Russia and South Africa.

"It (BRICS) is still a very powerful and important bloc. It cannot be written off even if China's growth is slowing down and Brazil is having some problems," he said.

Jaitley said he had a series of meetings with existing and prospective investors.

Among others, the Finance Minister met top officials of Cisco, Microsoft and Lloyds, which discussed the insurance sector related issues.

The meetings would continue over the next two days along with bilateral meetings with various government representatives from different countries.

According to Jaitley, India is coming back to the centre stage.

"This was the trend several years ago but we had fallen off the radar. Now investors are enthused by the fact that the government is led by a decisive Prime Minister and this is the right time to invest," he said.

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