Swiss banks ask govt to reject mass-requests for banking info

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

New Delhi (PTI) Swiss banks have asked their government to reject any “mass-requests” for account details, even as the European nation plans to relax its norms for sharing banking information with countries such as India.

Known for providing utmost secrecy to their customers and their assets, Swiss banks have also warned the Switzerland government against signing any automatic information exchange agreement with any foreign country.

Swiss banks, through their apex body Swiss Bankers Association (SBA), have told their government that any system of automatic information exchange and mass-requests for banking information must be resolutely rejected to safeguard the interests of Swiss financial centre in global banking system.

The views were expressed by the banks through an SBA statement to explain their position on the Swiss government’s proposed relaxations to its banking information sharing norms.

Buckling under international pressure, Swiss government on February 15 announced that it would relax some norms for sharing information on secret bank accounts of overseas tax offenders by allowing varied modes of identification.

The move is expected to help India and other countries in their respective black money trails, as Swiss authority would accept various identity modes for sharing information, as against only name and addresses accepted currently.

Last week, Indian government also informed Parliament about Switzerland’s proposed relaxation.

The Indian government is facing intense pressure from Opposition, as also the courts, to act tough against those who have amassed illicit wealth in foreign countries that have strict secrecy rules, such as Switzerland.

A treaty between India and Switzerland to pave way for authorities here to seek details of illicit wealth stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks is before the Swiss Parliament.

Reacting to their government’s move, the Swiss banks said that the Switzerland government should ensure that “the proposed revisions must not make any substantial difference to administrative assistance procedures in practice.” “So-called fishing expeditions and also mass-requests for information must continue to be ruled out and administrative assistance must continue to be based on justified requests,” SBA statement said.

SBA also said that “positive identification of an individual must continue to be the rule” to provide assistance to countries with taxation treaties with Switzerland.