New Delhi: As Indian tax authorities continue their probe into Swiss bank accounts of several citizens, Switzerland today said India has sought assistance in the investigations into accounts allegedly held by former Congress minister Preneet Kaur and her son Raninder Singh.
As per the Swiss norms for ‘assistance’ in tax matters, which could involve sharing of account and other details, the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) of Switzerland also asked Kaur and Singh to file an appeal within ten days for “exercise of the right to be heard”. The Swiss tax department has made these disclosures in two separate notifications published today in the Switzerland government’s federal gazette. The notifications did not disclose further details about the two, except for their nationality and dates of birth. No immediate comments could be obtained from Kaur and her son. Earlier when her name had come up in a leaked HSBC list, Kaur had denied having any account in her name with any foreign bank. She had also said that her statement was recorded earlier by the tax authorities, but she was not shown any document which might indicate having a foreign bank account or a trust. Names of several Indians and other foreign nationals have been disclosed in the gazette in recent months following growing global pressure on Switzerland to crack down on its famed banking secrecy practices amid suspicion on these accounts being used to park illicit wealth.
This is the latest in a series of such disclosures made by the FTA about information requests from India and other countries with which Switzerland has mutual assistance treaties in tax-related cases. As part of its bilateral treaty for administrative assistance and exchange of information with Switzerland, India has sought details about numerous individuals and companies from the Alpine nation as part of its crackdown against suspected black money stashed in Swiss banks. Over a dozen Indian names have been disclosed so far, while many other requests are pending with the Swiss authorities who conduct their own due diligence before starting the process of sharing the information. The notification about the concerned entity’s right to appeal is generally the first step in the information exchange process. This is typically seen as the Swiss government in-principle agreeing to share the information.
The first appeal needs to be filed with the Swiss Federal Tax Administration. Later, an appeal can also be filed before the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, while giving reasons and evidence for the same, the notification said, without disclosing further details about the case and the two individuals, except for their dates of birth and nationality.