The Indian government, which is trying to bring home illicit funds or 'black money' stashed away abroad, has strongly objected to Switzerland's refusal to share details pertaining to the HSBC bank accounts of certain Indians in the European country.
India's Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in a third letter to his Swiss counterpart, has warned that an effective exchange of tax-related information was "extremely important" for economic co-operation between the two countries.
Chidambaram also called on Bern to honour its "rights and duties" agreed to in a bilateral Direct Tax Avoidance Convention (DTAC), the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
In his letter to Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer Schlumpf, Chidambaram said India's request "is based on data obtained legally under a DTAC with a third country and India is not party to commission of any criminal offence in Switzerland in this regard."
New Delhi is seeking information about accounts mentioned in a so-called 'HSBC list' which India received from France through a bilateral treaty.
The India government claims it has 'incriminating evidence of tax evasion' against certain individuals whose names figure in that list.
However, the Swiss say they cannot share data with New Delhi as information is being sought on the basis of 'stolen' data -- reports state that France received that list after data was stolen by a peeved HSBC employee in 2011. Swiss laws do not permit exchange of information in cases where some criminality may be involved in obtaining data.
Supreme Court Diktat
India's highest court on 1 May reconstituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to monitor the government's probe into a black money case involving 26 individuals.
India suffered black money outflows of $84.93bn (£50.34bn, €61.28bn) in 2011, according to a December 2013 report by Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI).
Crime, corruption and tax evasion drained $946.7bn from the developing world in 2011, an over 13.7% increase from 2010, the GFI report added.