Switzerland will share details of Swiss bank accounts held by Indians with New Delhi from 2019. The announcement comes after India and Switzerland signed a joint declaration for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information on Friday. “It will now be possible for India to receive from September 2019 onwards, the financial information of accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland for 2018 and subsequent years on an automatic basis,” said the Finance Ministry.

While Switzerland will adhere to the global standards when it will start collecting data from 2018, India vowed to maintain the confidentiality of the data, reported PTI. The exchange of information will start from 2019. However, details of Swiss bank accounts held before 2018 will not be made available to India.

Bringing back the black money stashed in overseas accounts was one of the major poll planks of the BJP before the 2014 election. The Finance Ministry said combating the “menace of black money stashed in offshore accounts” has been a priority for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, reported The Economic Times. Union Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia hailed the signing of the joint declaration as a “big step” in this direction.

This has come at a time when the country is in the middle of huge cash crunch as the Centre scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. The government has defended the move’s crippling effects by saying it will reduce the amount of black money. However, the Finance Ministry on November 18 had said that there was no official estimate of the amount of black money in the country or overseas. It said it is still examining reports submitted by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, the National Council of Applied Economic Research and the National Institute of Financial Management.

The government has claimed that it has initiated measures to take tax evaders to task. This included the window it gave citizens to declare their undisclosed income, and international treaties it has negotiated to stop double tax exemptions. Finance Minister Jaitley on October 1, a day after the tax declaration scheme closed, had said that 64,275 people had declared assets worth Rs 65,250 crore.