India has offered amnesty to 100 high net
worth (HNW) citizens with secret HSBC accounts in Switzerland,
according to media reports.
Bloomberg has reported that the country’s
income tax department will not charge nationals if they transfer
the money in their Swiss accounts back to India and pay off owed
India, like the US and UK, is seeking to clamp
down on HNWIs with undeclared offshore assets as part of a joint
effort to tackle tax evasion.
The amnesty was given to a select number from
700 whose HSBC accounts in Geneva were disclosed to the Indian
government last year by French authorities, Bloomberg reported.
Amnesty stems from data
India’s efforts stem from a data breach that
occurred at HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland in 2010. Herve
Falciani, a former HSBC employee, passed details of an estimated
15,000 client accounts to the French government.
Michael Shanly, a millionaire property
developer, was ordered to pay £830,000 ($1.29m) in fines earlier
this month by UK tax regulator HMRC, who gained information of his
secret account as a result of the breach.
India is under more pressure than any other
country to retrieve unpaid tax money.
According to a November 2010 report by
Washington-based research firm Global Financial Integrity, which
studies the cross-border flow of illegal money, illicit Indian
assets abroad total about $462bn. This equates to 72% of the
country’s underground economy.