World
Swiss government to accept requests for banking info

With the new Tax Administrative Assistance Act coming into force next month, Switzerland will be able to provide banking and other details about a 'group of persons' even without their individual identification

Davos: Switzerland will be able to provide banking and other details sought by other countries, including India, from next month about a 'group of persons' even without their individual identification, provided the information has not been requested as part of some 'fishing expedition', reports PTI.

 

A new Tax Administrative Assistance Act will come into force on 1st February and a resolution to this effect has been passed by the Switzerland's Federal Council, a senior official in Swiss finance ministry said here.

 

The development follows intensified global pressure on Swiss authorities in the past couple of years to act against the secrecy walls of Swiss banks, which have been often accused of providing safe haven to illicit wealth from abroad and not sharing the account details citing their client confidentiality provisions.

 

While the Swiss government provides assistance to those foreign countries with whom it has relevant information exchange or tax treaties, which includes India, but requests for a 'group of persons' not accepted so far.

 

With the new Tax Administrative Assistance Act (TAAA) coming into force next month, group requests in accordance with the international standards will now be possible as well, said the official who is here for the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum.

 

Such requests would require a detailed description of the actions taken by any Swiss bank's clients "to avoid taxation and must be clearly distinct from fishing expeditions," the Swiss Federal Council has said in its resolution for the TAAA.

 

Fishing expedition is a term used for information requests without concrete indications of tax avoidance or other crimes and is generally undertaken with an aim to find something interesting.

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WEF meet to begin tomorrow; India growth story to be watched

Over 100 business and political leaders from India will join the world’s rich and powerful, including 50 government heads, to discuss current state of economic affairs in freezing weather of Davos

Davos: As the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) jamboree begins here tomorrow, over 100 business and political leaders from India will join the world's rich and powerful, including 50 government heads, to discuss current state of economic affairs in freezing weather of this Swiss Alpine resort town, reports PTI.

 

The top leaders attending this annual Davos meet would include British prime minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and Italy’s Mario Monti, along with heads of global organisations like World Bank, IMF, WTO, United Nations, as also chief executives of hundreds of global blue-chip companies.

 

Indian government and India Inc will be strongly represented at the six-day event, where India’s growth story and its recent slippages, amid a still struggling global economic recovery, are expected to be closely watched and widely discussed with “Resilent Dynamism” being the theme of this year’s annual WEF meeting.

 

The Indian delegation, comprising about 100 business and political leaders, would be headed by Union minister Kamal Nath, who emerged as one of the key strategists in the passage of contentious retail foreign direct investment (FDI) Bill in Parliament last month.

 

Nath, minister for urban development and parliamentary affairs, would be accompanied by his senior colleague and minister for commerce and industry Anand Sharma, heavy industries and public enterprises minister Praful Patel and power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

 

On the sidelines of this event, which would continue till 27th January, the ministers are expected to meet their government leaders from various countries, as also heads of numerous multi-national companies (MNCs) to apprise them of steps being taken by India to strengthen its position as a robust investment destination.

 

Corporate India would be represented by Anand Mahindra, Chanda Kochhar, Rahul Bajaj, Azim Premji, Sunil Bharti Mittal and heads of a number of Indian companies, including IT giants like TCS, Infosys, HCL Technologies and Mahindra Satyam.

 

Those expected at the WEF’s 43rd annual congregation of top leaders also include billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani and non-resident Indian (NRI) steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

 

With a major part of the world still reeling under economic crisis, selection of the theme by the Geneva-based WEF has already faced some criticism.

 

But, the WEF says that the need to bring in a ‘resilient dynamism’ becomes much more relevant in times like these when the world is continuously faced with unexpected events of enormous consequences—ranging from financial crisis to the Arab Spring to natural disasters like earthquake and cyclones.

 

Announcing the annual meeting, WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said that the world is seeing “a new reality of sudden shocks and prolonged global economic malaise, particularly in major economies experiencing economic austerity”.

 

“Future growth in this new context requires dynamism bold vision and even bolder action. Either attribute Resilience or Dynamism alone is insufficient, as leadership in 2013 will require both,” he said.

 

Top global public leaders who will participate are Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, OECD secretary-general Angel Gurra, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, WTO chief Pascal Lamy and American senator John McCain.

 

This year’s meeting, which would be WEF’s 43rd at Davos, would be co-chaired by Coca-Cola chief Muhtar Kent, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, UBS chairman Axel Weber, Embraer president Frederico Curado, Toshiba chairman Atsutoshi Nishida, as also Transparency International’s Huguette Labelle.

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