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RSSeeking to enhance cooperation to fight the black money menace, India and Switzerland on Wednesday said a team would soon visit the Alpine nation to expedite pending information requests on Indians with Swiss bank accounts, while an automatic exchange of details would begin in 2018.

Following up on the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann in Geneva on June 6, a high-level delegation from Switzerland on Wednesday met top Finance Ministry officials here to discuss wide ranging bilateral and multilateral tax and financial issues.

In his meetings with Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Swiss State Secretary for International Financial Matters, Jacques de Watteville also said that “Switzerland now has the necessary legal bases to begin with the implementation of automatic exchange of information (AEOI)” and a bilateral agreement can be reached by the end of this year.

“Once this agreement is signed, it will be possible for India to receive from 2018 financial information of accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland on automatic basis,” a Finance Ministry statement said, while adding “fighting the menace of black money stashed in offshore accounts has been a key priority for the government”.

Experts of both the countries will meet by mid-September 2016 to further discuss the modalities for the reciprocal bilateral implementation of AEOI between India and Switzerland with a view to reaching an agreement at the earliest, possibly by the end of the year.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the two sides said they agreed that regular contacts “facilitate a common understanding of each other’s concerns so as to ensure that the requests are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

“To begin with, a team of officers from India would visit Switzerland for bilateral discussions towards expeditious resolution of pending exchange of information requests.”

On requests based on what Switzerland considers as data obtained in breach of Swiss law, Adhia reaffirmed India’s position that Switzerland should share information in all cases in accordance with the treaty and “noted the progress made in a number of Indian requests based on investigations carried out independently of the ‘stolen data’.”

Later, Adhia said in a tweet: “To begin with, Switzerland would facilitate expeditious resolution of pending information requests”.

The need for expeditious implementation of automatic exchange of information was discussed at the meeting between Modi and the Swiss President in Geneva.

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