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Shaky presumption to assume that all deposits are tax evaded, says Arun Jaitley on Swiss bank data

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday lashed out at those suggesting that an increase in the deposits of Indians in Swiss banks was due to black money and urged those participating in the public discourse to understand “basic facts” before expressing an opinion.

“To assume that all the deposits are per se tax evaded money or that Switzerland in the matter of illegal deposits is what it was decades ago, is to start on a shaky presumption,” Jaitley wrote in his blog.

Reacting to the latest data from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) that showed the money of Indians stashed in Swiss banks rose over 50 per cent to Rs 7,000 crore in 2017, the former finance minister said that this news has led to a “misinformed reaction in certain circles” questioning “whether the Government’s anti-black money steps have yielded results”.

Asserting that Switzerland was always a reluctant state when it comes to financial disclosures, Jaitley said the Alpine nation has amended its domestic laws involving all disclosures and entered into a treaty even with India and real time flow of information with regard to Indians would be made.

“The flow of information is starting in January, 2019. 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,” the senior BJP leader added.

In an article titled ‘The Impact of the Government Polices on Direct Tax Collections’, Arun Jaitley said that ‘Indian’ money outside the country is of various categories.

“Past investigation by CBDT have shown that this includes many held by persons of Indian origin who now hold foreign passport, monies belonging to Non-Resident Indians, as also monies belonging to resident Indians who have made legitimate investments abroad, including transfer of money under the liberalised remittance schemes. It is only monies kept by resident Indian outside these categories which become actionable, he added.

Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the increase in Indian money in Swiss banks and claimed that the prime minister says a 50-per cent jump in deposits by Indians is “white money” and that there is no “black money”.

Congress spokesperson RPN Singh had also questioned PM Modi’s promise of eradicating corruption and bringing back black money.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, earlier on Thursday, asked how the opposition was assuming that all deposits in Swiss banks was black money or illegal transactions.

According to the latest SNB data, the Indian money in Swiss banks included CHF (Swiss franc) 464 million (Rs 3,200 crore) in the form of customer deposits, 152 million Swiss francs (Rs 1,050 crore) through other banks and 383 million Swiss francs (Rs 2,640 crore) as ‘other liabilities’ such as securities at the end of 2017.

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