Switzerland starts ending banking secrecy; brings a list that contains only two Indian citizens.

Switzerland has officially published the list of suspected foreign nationals who are having illegal money parked in Swiss banks.

Surprisingly, the list contains only two Indian citizens. The two Indians, Sneh Lata Sawhney and her husband, Bhushan Lal Sawhney has around Rs 17 crores in Swiss banks.

The estimated number of accounts by Indian citizens in Swiss banks is at least 1200 and the estimated money held is around Rs 15000 crores.

The Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) revelation in the gazette includes a sweet advisory to the account holders to file an appeal within 30 days before the Federal Administrative Court.

The list contains citizens of different countries including Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, the USA and South Korea besides India and companies registered in tax havens of Panama, the Bahamas.

Contrary to expectations of large number of holders and the money to be held, the list is very insignificant. It is estimated that Indian government has submitted a list of around 650 names. Independent enquiries by investigative journalism drive of the Indian Express estimated that there is at least 1100 Indians account in the HSBC Geneva branch.

The low value of money held and number of account holder indicate that the entire process of disclosure of black money globally, has helped bulk of the tax evaders to make safe arrangements somewhere.

The list however small in value and the number of people listed, marks the end of the Swiss practice of supporting banking secrecy. Switzerland is known as a non-cooperative jurisdiction in terms of tax information exchange. This is mainly because of banking secrecy standards widely followed by its banking system.

Over the last one year, Switzerland is coming under tremendous pressure to end its banking secrecy laws. The Swiss government and many banks decided to end the practice under the global drive to chase black money. OECD and G2O have made many measures including automatic tax information exchange agreements to ensure transparency globally.

One such major measure was the G20 sponsored Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The Global Forum in its 2014 report has named Switzerland along with many infamous tax havens that have not completed Phase I tax information exchange standards.  

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