India will get all data on black money from Switzerland by the end of fiscal 2019, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said today, a day after the central European nation released data that showed money parked by Indians rose over 50 per cent to 1.01 billion Swiss francs (Rs. 7,000 crore) in 2017.
“We will have all the info and if anybody is found guilty, strict action will be taken,” Mr Goyal told reporters in New Delhi. “Today, nobody has the guts to save money outside the country. And it has been possible only because of the government’s hard work,” the interim Finance Minister said.
While Switzerland has already begun sharing foreign client details on evidence of wrongdoing provided by India and some other countries, it has agreed to further expand its cooperation on India’s fight against black money with a new pact for automatic information exchange.
“Agreement between India and Switzerland has this. From January 1, 2018 till end of accounting year (ends March 31, 2019), all data will be made available. Why assume this is black money or illegal transactions?” Piyush Goyal said, referring to the report.
India and Switzerland have held several rounds of discussions on the new framework on exchange of financial data, and also for fast-tracking exchange of pending information requests about suspected illegal accounts of Indians in Swiss banks.
About an hour after Piyush Goyal’s remarks, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to take a swipe at the Modi government over what he claimed was the government’s inability to win the fight against black money.
The surge in Indian money held with Swiss banks in 2017 comes as a surprise given India’s continuing clampdown on suspected black money stashed abroad, including in banks of Switzerland that used to be known for their famed secrecy walls for years.
Indian money in Swiss banks had fallen by 45 per cent in 2016, marking their biggest ever yearly plunge, to 676 million Swiss francs (Rs. 4,500 crore) — the lowest ever since Switzerland began making the data public in 1987.
In November 2016, the government had withdrawn high-value currency notes from circulation overnight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said demonetisation would wipe out black money from the system.
The rupee has also been under severe stress. On Thursday, it breached the 69-mark against the US dollar for the first time, ending the day at an all-time low of 68.79.