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Liechtenstein ready to help India on black money

Feb 07, 2011 05:59 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Is the Government of India actually helpless in claiming that it has not got enough help from Liechtenstein in tracking black money? The case is not so with the Government of Liechtenstein telling to CNN-IBN in an email interview that there is already an existing framework of cooperation between India and Liechtenstein when it comes to money laundering.

Liechtenstein is one of smallest countries in the world and is also a synonym for black money in India. It is a tax haven, where much of Indian black money is suspected to be stashed.

Now Liechtenstein has called the bluff on New Delhi's steadfast position that the country is unwilling to share details of tax evasion and tax fraud with India.

In an email reply to CNN-IBN, Principality of Liechtenstein spokesperson Gerlinde Manz-Christ has specifically said: "It has to be noted that there is an already well functioning cooperation in pursuing financial crime between India and Liechtenstein, on the basis of mutual legal assistance. The Financial Intelligence Units of both nations work very well together, for a considerable time already they have been in close contact on issues such as terror financing, money laundering or corruption."

Moreover, Liechtenstein also wants to sign a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with India immediately.

"Yes. We are interested in a comprehensive Double Taxation Agreement with India, instead of a more narrow agreement on Tax Information Exchange. This is of high importance for Liechtenstein. In tax related issues, Liechtenstein will assist India once a treaty is signed, and if a request from India's government is made in accordance with that treaty," said Gerlinde Manz-Christ.

Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who is fighting a legal battle in Supreme Court to make public the list of Indians with black money in foreign banks, says that the email from the Spokesperson of Principality of Liechtenstein to CNN-IBN exposes the double standards of the Indian government.

Liechtenstein says that until the treaty is signed, they cannot share information of Indian citizens with who evaded tax and stashed money in the 15 banks of the country.

The Government of Liechtenstein has made its intentions abundantly clear in the email reply sent to CNN-IBN. The onus is now squarely on New Delhi to sign the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty as soon as possible if the government is keen to trace black money in the banks of Liechtenstein.