Not all money in Swiss banks is black, claims Arun Jaitley

Radhika Dhawad | Jun 30, 2018 13:07

Union Minister Arun Jaitely on Friday, speaking about Indian money parked in Swiss banks, claimed that not all money was ‘tax-evaded.’
Arun Jaitely (Photo source: facebook)

Soon after Swiss central bank revealed that black money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose by 50% in 2017, Union Minister Arun Jaitely on Friday claimed that not all money in Swiss banks was ‘tax-evaded.’

He assured that those possessing black money in Swiss banks would face severe punishment under the black money law. He said that as per India’s agreement with Switzerland, the latter would share all financial information about Indian account holders in January 2019. Jaitley in his blog detailed readers about ‘The Impact of the Government Polices on Direct Tax Collections’ and also wrote about money in Swiss banks.

Jaitley wrote, “A news item has appeared today indicating an increase of money by ‘Indians’ in the Swiss banking system. This has led to misinformed reaction in certain circles raising a query whether the Government’s anti-black money steps have yielded results.”

He added, “Switzerland in financial disclosures was always a reluctant state. Of late it was subjected to a lot of international pressures, which favoured disclosures and Switzerland ran the risk of being a ‘non-compliant’ State by the FATF. It has, therefore, entered into several bilateral treaties for making disclosures to requesting States. It has amended its domestic laws involving all disclosures and entered into a treaty even with India and real time flow of information with regard to Indians will be made. The flow of information is starting in January, 2019. Any illegal depositor knows that it is a matter of months before his name becomes public and he will be subjected to the harsh penal provisions of the Black money law in India.”

Explaining further, Jaitely wrote, “Assuming this information to be correct, what does past experience show? When disclosures have been made with regard to ‘Indians’, including in the Panama Papers, certainly some of them have held illegal accounts. ‘Indian’ money outside the country is of various categories. Past investigation by CBDT have shown that this includes many held by persons of Indian origin who now hold foreign passport, monies belonging to Non-Resident Indians, as also monies belonging to resident Indians who have made legitimate investments abroad, including transfer of money under the liberalised remittance schemes. It is only monies kept by resident Indian outside these categories, which become actionable.”

“The first two categories are within the jurisdiction of those countries where these persons are residents and the third category can easily be checked up in India. If the deposit does not fall in any of these categories, it is per se illegal for which investigations are undertaken, arrests are made and criminal prosecutions are launched. Switzerland has taken significant efforts to get out of the image of being a tax haven and a non-compliant State. It is on the verge of making disclosures in real time and, therefore, is no longer an ideal destination for tax evaders. Those who participate in a public discourse must understand these basic facts before expressing an opinion, which may be ill-informed. To assume that all the deposits are per se tax evaded money or that Switzerland in the matter of illegal deposits is what it was decades ago, is to start on a shaky presumption,” wrote Jaitely.

However, Congress President Rahul Gandhi was quick to retort after BJP claimed that not all money in Swiss banks was black. He took to his twitter handle and took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He wrote, “2014, HE said: I will bring back all the “BLACK” money in Swiss Banks & put 15 Lakhs in each Indian bank A/C. 2016, HE said: Demonetisation will cure India of “BLACK” money. 2018, HE says: 50% jump in Swiss Bank deposits by Indians, is “WHITE” money. No “BLACK” in Swiss Banks!”