Prominent Indian On Swiss Tax Probe List

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New Delhi: The names of five “Indian nationals” were made public in Switzerland’s Federal Gazette on Tuesday, 26 May, with regard to details sought about them by Indian authorities in ongoing tax probes at home. 

In addition to the name of Sneh Lata Sawhney and Sangita Sawhney made public on Monday, 25 May, the names of industrialist Yash Birla, Gurjit Singh Kochar, son-in-law of late realty baron Ponty Chadha, a Delhi-based businesswoman Ritika Sharma and two Mumbai-based individuals behind City Limousines scam were named on Tuesday. 

The names of these five “Indian nationals” have been made public in Switzerland’s Federal Gazette with regard to details sought about them by the Indian authorities. Among these, some details have already been shared by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) with India including about Birla and Sharma of Blessings Apparel, Indian Express reported on Tuesday. 

On Monday, the Swiss FTA had asked Sneh Lata Sawhney and Sangita Sawhney to file an appeal within 30 days before the federal administrative court if they do not want their details to be shared with the Indian authorities under their “mutual assistance” treaty on tax matters.

At least 40 such “final notices” have reportedly been published in the Swiss federal gazette so far this month, while more such names are expected to be published going forward. The Indian government has been pushing the Swiss authorities for a long time to share information on the suspected tax evaders, while Switzerland has shared some details in cases where India has been able to provide some independent evidence of suspected tax evasion by Indian clients of Swiss banks.

In case of Sayed Mohamed Masood, being probed for a major ponzi scheme run from Mumbai through City Limousines, some details were shared by the Swiss authorities in the past. His accounts were also frozen a few years ago following a request from the Enforcement Directorate. 

Fresh details about him and about Chaud Kauser Mohamed Masood have been sought by the Indian authorities, as per the notifications published in Switzerland’s official gazette.

As per these notices, the concerned persons can file an appeal before the Federal Administrative Court within 30 days, while providing the reasons and evidence in their support. Through these gazette notices, the Swiss FTA is also looking to give the concerned persons an opportunity to resort to legal remedies. These are the persons about whom foreign governments are requesting information. 

Committing full support to India’s fight against the black money menace, Switzerland last week had said its Parliament would soon consider changes in laws to look into the possibility of sharing information in cases being probed on the basis of stolen data of Swiss bank accounts. 

Switzerland’s Economic Affairs Minister Johann Schneider Ammann during his India visit on May 15 said that the Swiss government was sensitive to the fact that the issue of black money was very important for India and needed to be resolved. 

“Switzerland has decided to follow international standards, including those framed by OECD, in sharing information and providing assistance to foreign countries probing such cases, but we have to ask our Parliament to make changes in our laws,” he said. 

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