Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday sought to downplay a report that money deposited by Indians in Swiss banks rose by over 50% in 2017. The Swiss National Bank’s annual report had said on Thursday that Indian money in Swiss banks rose from CHF 676 million (around Rs 4,670 crore) in 2016 to CHF 1.01 billion (Rs 6,974 crore) in 2017.
Jaitley, in a note on Facebook, said that the bank’s annual report had led to “misinformed reaction in certain circles raising a query whether the government’s anti-black money steps have yielded results”.
Jaitley, who held the finance portfolio, is recuperating after a kidney transplant in May, while Piyush Goyal handles finance in his absence.
The finance minister claimed that the “experience of the Panama Papers”, and “investigation by the Central Board of Direct Taxes” show that money deposited in Swiss banks by “Indians” is of three types – funds parked by persons of Indian origin who now carry foreign passports, those deposited by Non-Resident Indians and funds parked by Indian residents. “The first two categories are within the jurisdiction of those countries where these persons are residents and the third category can easily be checked up in India,” Jaitley said.
The finance minister said Indian residents can also make legitimate investments in Swiss banks. “If the deposit does not fall in any of these categories, it is per se illegal for which investigations are undertaken, arrests are made and criminal prosecutions are launched,” Jaitley added.
The finance minister said that Switzerland had taken several steps to “get out of the image of being a tax haven”. He corroborated interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal’s statement that India would receive all the data on black money from Switzerland by the end of the 2019 financial year.
“The flow of information is starting in January 2019,” said Jaitley. “Any illegal depositor knows that it is a matter of months before his name becomes public and he will be subjected to the harsh penal provisions of the black money law in India.”