Indians on HSBC Swiss list strive to prove NRI status

Indians on HSBC Swiss list strive to prove NRI status

Dozens of non-resident Indians who spent time living in Switzerland are striving to prove their expat status to the Swiss tax authorities, even though NRIs are exempt from paying Indian income tax.

The Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) is still working through the so-called HSBC list, which came to light following a leak in 2008 by a then-employee of HSBC Private Bank in Geneva. Hervé Falciani, a whistleblower, made public information relating to some 130,000 bank accounts held in Switzerland, many of which were found to be involved in tax evasion.

The FTA has sent notices to NRIs who held accounts with the private banking arm before then sharing their account details with the Indian authorities. 

One of the people affected by the FTA's investigation told India's Economic Times: "Interestingly, the Swiss authorities are not questioning residency status prior to April 2011. Most of these representations are built on demonstrating NRI status from April 1, 2011. Subsequently, Switzerland may ask India why information is required about a person who was an NRI. But it has not come to that stage."

Falciani is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for "aggravated financial espionage."

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.