‘As of now, even if a team is sent there, we can’t do anything’

Justice M.B. Shah, Chairman of the Special Investigation Team on black money, termed the Switzerland government’s denial to have shared or assured information on Indians having unaccounted money in Swiss banks a “setback”, but said the hitch would not dampen the resolve of his team.

“No doubt, this is indeed a setback for us. But we will not stop working. We will continue to pursue our objectives as SIT,” Justice Shah told The Hindu on Tuesday over the phone.

Asked whether the SIT would consider taking the investigation right up to the Swiss doors by sending a probe team, Justice Shah said, “As of now, even if a team is sent there, we cannot do anything if that country is unwilling to co-operate.”

On Sunday, a PTI story quoted a Swiss official saying the European nation had prepared a list of Indians suspected to have stashed away un-taxed wealth in Swiss banks and was willing to share it with the Indian government.

Justice Shah, who heads the 11-member team set up by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government as per the Supreme Court directions, had on Sunday welcomed the development as a breakthrough for the SIT.

No new development

However, the Swiss Ministry of Finance denied the news in a statement the next day.

“Since a high-level Swiss delegation met its Indian counterparts in New Delhi in February 2014, no further official meeting has taken place. There is no new development to be reported,” the statement said.

“Switzerland looks forward to working together with the new government of the Republic of India in its fight against tax evasion,” it signed off.

Recent reports said accessing information on tax crimes from Switzerland may become easier with a proposed revision in their Tax Administrative Assistance Act to do away with a requirement to inform individuals prior to sharing their details with a foreign jurisdiction for alleged tax crimes.

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