Swiss Bank Money row – Can India force Switzerland

The country was in a semi euphoric mood last few days when Media published reports that Swiss Bank Authorities are about to release certain details of wealth stashed away by Indians in the picturesque country of Europe’s secure banks. The Modi Government had made all the noises and whistles about bringing the alleged black money back.

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There have been several estimates being done on how much money is stashed away secretly by Indians in Swiss Banks. Some say it is 1450 billion dollars equivalent to around 65,785,630,000,000 Indian Rupees. Some say, it is even more. There are 40 more Tax haven countries like Switzerland and no one is even guessing the number of zeroes in the amount of black money that could be hidden by Indians in those countries.

Whether or not the huge sum of money is brought back, the dreamers, visionaries and optimists all alike are campaigning already how this money would help India and Indians to become the country of our dreams. True, if this huge money can be somehow brought back it will do miracles. The entire foreign debt can be paid back in a day’s time, poverty can be eradicated, better schools and high end hospitals, bullet trains and air connectivity, everything that is a dream now can probably be nurtured.

But will the money be truly brought back?

The fact is that neither through the European Union’s Privacy laws nor from the Swiss banking sector, there have any legal agreement which can facilitate transfer of such huge funds from Switzerland to India. Leave that alone – there is at the moment no compulsion or agreement to even provide details of such wealth except for just basic pieces of information.

There is a global campaign against bank secrecy laws of Switzerland to deal with the black money issue and as BJP Patriarch L K Advani had pointed out last year, India had failed then to take advantage of the virtual crisis gripping the Swiss banking sector. This remains true even today because of shear failure of India’s external affairs ministry.

An international news agency had reported that much of the Switzerland’s prosperity was built on their bankers helping foreigners evade taxes. For Switzerland, revenue from the banks is important for its economy indeed. A country who is known to maintain such strong neutrality that even United Nations was inclined to have its Headquarters in Geneva, is unlikely to succumb to India’s pressure so easily.

Moreover, Finance minister Arun Jaitley also clarified that there is no official input from Swiss Bank authority on this controversial issue.

On the other hand, there are allegations that the report of Swiss Banks disclosing details to India is being done purposefully to hide the other rising concerns about price rise and most importantly about the issue of European Union banning export of Mangoes and four other vegetables from India.

Also we can take an alternate example – when Bangladesh – a friendly neighbor of India captured Militant leaders of India’s northeast, they had seized millions worth money which were stashed in Bangladeshi banks by these militants. This money was most likely collected through illegal trade or extortion from people, in short black money. India has however not able to recover this money. Even India has not been able to implement a prisoner extradition treaty to bring back India’s Wanted who are in prison such as Anup Chetia, General Secretary of the ULFA. In exchange of ULFA’s General Secretary Anup Chetia, Bangladesh asked India to deport their most wanted Subrata Bain who is jailed in India.

People can indeed ask that if India cannot do this with Bangladesh – a friendly neighbor – what are the odds that India can bring back money from Switzerland.

Coming three and half months will answer – how Narendra Modi can keep his promise that he said before Lok Sabha Election; “Give me majority governance, I will bring bank all black money of India kept in Swiss Bank within 150 days.”

Countdown started already. 30 days of 150 days are gone.

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