At a time when the focus is on illicit income stashed away in foreign accounts, India Thursday entered into an information exchange pact with the Caribbean islands nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis that is regarded as a safe haven for offshore funds.
The agreement was signed at the Indian mission here by India's Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji, and Saint Kitts and Nevis counterpart Ambassador Delano Frank Bart.
The agreement is modelled on other tax information exchange agreements and would cover taxes imposed by both countries, the Indian mission said in a statement.
It would include information on domestic tax laws of each country in terms of assessment, tax claims and prosecution. The agreement would also include information on banking details, ownership information of companies and information relevant to administration of domestic laws and taxes in both the countries.
India has also signed information exchange pacts on tax matters with a number of tax-haven locations including Bahamas, Bermuda, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Jersey, Macau, Liberia, Argentina, Guernsey and Monaco, among others.
In a major step that will aid India track and recover black money stashed abroad, G20 finance ministers agreed in September on allowing automatic sharing of all bank information with tax authorities at the end of each year, starting 2017.
At their meeting in Cairns, Australia, the ministers agreed to begin exchanging information automatically between each other and with other countries by 2017 or end-2018. The deal will not only allow the countries to extract bank details for future, but they can also avail account balance information of the past five to six years upon request.
Following a mid-October meeting in Berne between Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das and the Swiss State Secretary for International Financial Matters, Jacques de Watteville, the countries issued a joint statement that said: "Swiss authorities would assist in obtaining confirmation on the genuineness of bank documents on request by the Indian side."
"The Swiss have agreed to provide us bank information of names that we will provide them after there has been an investigation and evidence collected against that person," Finance Minister Jaitley told reporters here on the revenue secretary's return from Switzerland.