ISLAMABAD: Swiss ambassador Marc P. George on Monday said Islamabad would first have to establish that the Pakistani deposits in Swiss accounts were earned through illicit means before making efforts to bring the money back.
Insisting that the government and some politicians should refrain from raising their expectations, George said it was unclear how the oft-quoted figure of $200 billion Pakistani money in Swiss bank accounts was established.
“We do not know how this amount of $200 billion was arrived at. So far, Pakistan has not sought any such exchange of information from us under bilateral agreement,” said the Swiss Ambassador while speaking to a group of journalists here at the embassy on Monday.
George said according to Swiss laws, if someone earned money through legal means and deposited it into Swiss bank account then it would be difficult for Pakistan or any other country to bring it back.
He said Pakistan would have to prove that “black money” was lying in Swiss accounts, clarifying that Pakistan’s fresh talks with Switzerland over double taxation, starting from August 26 to 28, does not have any fresh clause over the repatriation of assets.
A Pakistani delegation comprising of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) high-ups have already left for Switzerland to take part in talks regarding the avoidance of double taxation between the two countries.
George said that the Swiss legislation on the repatriation of assets generally requires evidence proving that the funds were acquired through illegal activities.
He further explained that if assets or incomes were not correctly reported to tax authorities that does not sufficiently establish a nexus between the concerned assets and its illegal acquisition. When the journalists asked why Switzerland cannot informally share the bank details of Pakistanis with Islamabad, George said leaking such information could result in criminal proceedings under the Swiss laws.
When the journalists pressed the ambassador to tell them about the $60 million allegedly owned and deposited by former President Asif Ali Zardari into Swiss accounts, George said he did not know about it.
Speaking on the current double taxation talks between Pakistan and Switzerland, George refuse to provide any time-frame, adding that both the parties would negotiate the details. But if more deliberation was required more talks would be held in the future. “No exact time-frame can be given for finalizing the fresh agreement,” he added.
Switzerland and Pakistan had signed a convention for avoidance of double taxation on July 19, 2005. The Ambassador said the primary aim of the agreement is to avoid double taxation by coordination of taxation rights of the contracting states.
He added that the adaptation of fresh agreement would provide a better framework for mutual trade and investment between the two countries. However, George said the agreement did not include a legal basis for the restitution of assets originating from illegal activities.
But he said that the legal basis for the restitution of illegally acquired assets exists in bilateral agreement such as the agreement between Switzerland and Pakistan for sharing of confiscated assets of May 18, 2005.
Source: The NEWS