Switzerland gets serious on sharing banking info, puts 11 Indians on notice
27 May 2019
The Swiss Federal Tax Administration on Tuesday issued at least 11 notices to Indians clients of Swiss banks, as the country stepped up moves against black money. The Swiss government's gazette notifications, however, redacted the full names of bank clients and instead gave initials, nationality and the dates of birth.
The two Indians whose names have been mentioned in full are Krishna Bhagwan Ramchand (born in May 1949) and Kalpesh Harshad Kinariwala (born in September 1972). However, no further details have been disclosed about them.
The Indian nationals with redacted names include Mrs A S B K (born on 24 November 1944), Mr A B K I (born on 9 July 1944), Mrs P A S (born on 2 November 1983), Mrs R A S (born on 22 November 1973), Mr A P S (born on 27 November 1944), Mrs A D S (born on 14 August 1949), Mr M L A (born on 20 May 1935), Mr N M A (born on 21 February 1968) and Mr M M A (born on 27 June 1973).
The notices ask the individuals concerned or their authorised representatives to file appeals within 30 days with necessary documentary proof to support their case against providing 'administrative assistance' to India, which broadly means sharing of their banking and other financial details.
Earlier this month on 7 May, the Swiss authorities issued a similar notice to an Indian national, Ratan Singh Chowdhury, giving an option to appeal within ten days, while another Indian national with redacted name, Mr R P N, was given 30 days on 14 May.
In April also, the Swiss authorities issued some such notices including to one Mrs J N V, as also to Mr Kuldip Singh Dhingra and Anil Bhardwaj, among others.
Several of these names are said to have figured in the leaked HSBC lists and Panama papers, which allegedly contained names of Indians with Swiss bank accounts and are being probed by Indian authorities in alleged black money cases.
In case of Krishna Bhagwan Ramchand and Kalpesh Harshad Kinariwala, such notices were issued in April as well and fresh notices have been served to them presumably after their responses to the earlier notices.
In March, Swiss authorities issued such notices to Mumbai-based Geodesic Ltd and its three directors (Prashant Sharad Mulekar, Pankajkumar Onkar Srivastava and Kiran Kulkarni), as also to Chennai-based Aadhi Enterprises Pvt Ltd, who are being probed by the Indian authorities for alleged money laundering and other financial irregularities.
Switzerland was widely known as a safe haven for black money before it bowed to global pressure and agreed to bring down the secrecy walls that had historically surrounded Swiss banks, provided the requesting country gave proof for financial irregularities done by the concerned person or the company.
Several western countries have already got banking information on suspected investors in a large number of cases in the last few years.
As per the Swiss law, the FTA decision can be appealed within 30 days (in some cases 10 days), provided the appellant is able to give sufficient ground to challenge it.
While the Swiss government documents did not disclose specific details related to the information and assistance sought by the Indian authorities, the issuance of notices to these individuals follows submission of proof about financial and tax-related wrongdoings and typically involves sharing of information relating to bank account details and other financial data.
Switzerland has since March sent at least 25 notices to Indian clients of its banks, giving them a chance to appeal before it gives information about them to the Indian government.
It may be noted that while the Federal Tax Administration of Switzerland started sharing information on foreign clients of Swiss banks with a number of countries, the number of India-related cases have so far been few.