India has received first tranche of its residents' account details in Swiss banks under a latest framework enabling automatic information exchange between the two countries.
The exchange took place within the framework of the global standard on the automatic exchange of information (AEOI). India is among 75 countries with which Switzerland's Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has shared intelligence on the financial details of people.
The development marks an important breakthrough in India's efforts to track down black money hidden abroad.
A spokesperson of the Federal Tax Administration told PTI news agency that the next exchange will take place in 2020. "According to the international agreement in place, the exchanges have to take place within nine months after the end of the respective calendar year," the spokesperson said. "This means the exchange takes place in September, except for corrections."
This is the first time that India has received details from Swiss authorities under the AEOI framework, which provides for exchange of information on financial accounts, currently active as well as those accounts that were closed during 2018, the year in which the framework agreement became effective.
However, the exchange is governed by strict confidentiality clause and the FTA officials refused to disclose specific details on the number of accounts or about the quantum of financial assets associated with the accounts of Indian clients of Swiss banks.
The details reportedly relate mostly to businessmen, including non-resident Indians now settled in several South-East Asian countries as well as in the US, the UK and even some African and South American countries.
Overall, the FTA has sent information on around 3.1 million financial accounts to the partner states and received information on around 2.4 million from them.
Separately, the Swiss government said in a statement that the number of countries with which the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) has taken place this year is 75, out of which there was reciprocity with 63 countries.
In the case of 12 countries, Switzerland received information but did not provide any, either because those countries do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security (Belize, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Curacao, Montserrat, Romania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cyprus) or because they chose not to receive data (Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands).
The Swiss Federal Council cancelled the automatic exchange of financial account information with Bulgaria, following the discovery that the personal data of four million Bulgarian and foreign taxpayers was hacked from the Bulgarian National Revenue Agency in July.
The data was collected by the FTA from around 7,500 institutions including banks, trusts and insurers.
"The largest exchange was with Germany, as was the case in the previous year. The FTA cannot provide any information on the amount of financial assets," the statement added.