In a big step towards fighting black money stashed overseas, Switzerland today agreed to automatic sharing of information with India on Swiss bank accounts of Indians as of September 2018 and onwards.
They will not share details about accounts held prior to that period, while the first such exchange will happen in September 2019.
The 'Joint Declaration' for implementation of AEOI signed between India and Switzerland provides that both countries will start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards.
While Switzerland has conformed to the global standards on automatic exchange of information with the signing of the declaration, India, on its part, has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data.
"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 a Finance Ministry statement.
Describing the signing of declaration as a "big step", Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia tweeted: "The income tax department will be able to obtain information from accounts of all Indians stashed in Switzerland from 2018 onwards."
The Swiss Federal Department of Finance said in a statement that the signing of the joint declaration with India confirms Switzerland's international commitment to implementing the automatic exchange of Information (AEOI) standard.
"Switzerland is thus strengthening its network of AEOI partner states. India meets in particular the high demands in terms of adherence to the principle of speciality and the safeguarding of confidentiality for the data delivered, which are prerequisites for the introduction of the AEOI," it said.
Switzerland, which has always been at the centre of the debate on black money allegedly stashed by Indians abroad, used to be known for very strong secrecy walls till a few years ago around its banking practices.
Global pressure has resulted in Switzerland relenting on the tough secrecy clauses its local laws gave to the banks. Several information requests on details about Indians who had accounts in Swiss banks are still pending.
The new declaration, however, does not talk about exchange of information based on stolen data or pending requests from India.