Relaxed rules may help India seek information on Swiss bank accounts

In a move that could help India recover black money stashed away in tax haven Switzerland, the country has relaxed norms for sharing information on secret bank accounts of overseas tax offenders, by allowing varied modes of identification.

Currently only names and addresses are accepted as valid identity modes. However, it would still not be acceptable for the European nation to open up its systems to 'fishing expeditions' or allow foreign countries to trawl through Swiss bank accounts hoping to unearth some information of interest.

The changes were made by the finance ministry of the Swiss government today through a revision of 'Requirements for Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters,' according to an official from Bern, Switzerland.

The Indian government has come under immense pressure from the opposition, as also courts to crack down on those who have amassed illicit wealth in foreign countries that operate banks with strict secrecy rules.

The Swiss parliament is debating a treaty between India and Switzerland to clear the way for Indian authorities to seek details of Indian account holders who have stashed away trillions of dollars worth of illicit wealth in Swiss banks.

As per the norms in practice at present, foreign countries that have information exchange facilitating treaty with Switzerland can seek help from Swiss authorities on providing name and address of the suspected tax offender, as also those of the concerned bank.