New Delhi: Acting on India's pressure on black money stashed in Switzerland, European nation has shown its readiness to amend laws and sign a bilateral pact on automatic sharing of information.
This was conveyed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when the visiting Swiss Economic Affairs Minister Johann N Schneider-Ammann met him on Friday evening.
Jaitley recalled that in October last year it was agreed that if India gave "additional evidence over and above the stolen information of the HSBC accounts", Switzerland will "cooperate in confirming" that "within a time period."
"Since a large number of account holders have made admissions before the Government of India. As to whether admissions itself is an evidence on the basis of which they would act, they said indeed they would.
"And this precise fact has been reaffirmed in the meeting today. We have made the request to Switzerland and we have asked them to expedite the process of confirmation of details that we have sought," he told reporters after the meeting.
Jaitley said India has also asked Switzerland to sign a bilateral information sharing agreement once it joins the global pact for fighting black money menace.
"Additionally, we have also requested them that now that Swtizerland has also agreed to join the global mainstream in the fight against unaccounted money by becoming part of the group of nations which will cooperate in the automatic exchange of information, as soon as they are ready, India is immediately ready to enter into a bilateral arrangement with Switzerland to that effect," he said.
The Finance Minister said there was "forward" movement on the October 15 agreement between India and Switzerland on the issue of sharing information based on evidence over and above the HSBC stolen bank account list.
"I had additionally taken up the subject of Switzerland cooperation with India in the matter of providing evidence with regard to those Indians who have unaccounted assets and accounts in financial institutions and banks in Switzerland," he said.
Commenting on the discussions with Jaitley, the Swiss Minister said, "The discussion with the Minister was very constructive in a partnership mood.... What we discussed was that Switzerland government took a decision to start a Parliamentary process to qualify the basis for the support to solve these issues. Switzerland is prepared to follow the OECD regulations as we were in the past."
Asked whether the process to amend the law relating to information exchange on cases involving stolen data would be time-consuming and provide the suspected black money hoarders enough time to move their funds, Ammann said, "Switzerland is committed to follow international standards, but India should take note of the fact that we have a Parliamentary process and the Swiss government can only give its proposal." "I agree that time is a factor, but we have to follow the procedures... Now there is a will to clarify.
We can't say as yet that it would be done or it would be done within such time period. The stolen data issue has to be discussed in Parliament," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)