No request to retrieve '$200 billion' in Swiss banks, says Swiss envoy

Published: August 25, 2014
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Refusing to confirm the estimated amount of $200 billion stashed in Swiss Banks given by the Pakistani authorities, the envoy said, “We do not know from where this figure came in and what the source is.” STOCK IMAGE

Refusing to confirm the estimated amount of $200 billion stashed in Swiss Banks given by the Pakistani authorities, the envoy said, “We do not know from where this figure came in and what the source is.” STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has not requested for negotiations on exchange of information for restitution of any ill-gotten money presumably stashed in Swiss banks, said Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc George on Monday.

The statement from the Swiss ambassador follows claims by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar that talks would be held with Swiss authorities in August to bring back US$200 billion to Pakistan from banks in Switzerland.

However, George, while speaking to a group of journalists on Monday, clarified that the Pak-Switzerland talks kicking off tomorrow (Tuesday) in Bern, Switzerland would be restricted to re-negotiating the double tax avoidance treaty, not information on exchange.

George moved to dispel the impression created by numerous statements given by Pakistani politicians, including Dar, regarding the bringing back of ill-gotten money.

“The statements made by the politicians and articles in newspapers suggested that there were lot of expectations from upcoming talks between Pakistan and Switzerland for Avoidance of Double Taxation,” said George, while advising people to adjust their expectations.

A two-member Pakistani delegation from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has already reached Switzerland for the talks.

“For us it will be just a technical meeting and the figures quoted and the related issues will not be discussed during three-day talks,” said George.

The ambassador was also clueless when it came to the $200 billion figure being quoted by various politicians. “We do not know where this figure came from or what the source is,” he added.

He said avoidance of double taxation treaty and convention on exchange of information were two different legal instruments and people in Pakistan were intermingling the two. “The issue of exchange of information on illegal assets was not on the meeting’s agenda; as to my knowledge, Pakistan did not place any request,” he added.

Earlier, Finance Minister Dar had claimed that the talks would be held with Swiss authorities in August to bring back $200 billion to Pakistan from banks in Switzerland. He, however, said that there were no firm estimates of the amount and the money could be far less than this.

But George said the purpose of the meeting was to adapt modern convention for better coordination of taxing rights to the present policies of Pakistan and Switzerland in a bid to promote mutual trade and investment.

George said Pakistan had requested to renegotiate the treaty in November last year.

He said there was a perception in Pakistan that the avoidance of double taxation treaty would provide the base for bringing back asset deposit in the Swiss banks. George maintained that for that purpose the adaptation of current international standard in respect of the exchange of information provided tax authorities of both the countries with a legal basis for an exchange of information for tax purposes on request.

He clarified that the convention for avoidance of double taxation does not generally include a legal basis for the restitution of assets originating from illegal activities. He said Pakistan and Switzerland had in May 2005 signed an agreement for sharing of confiscated assets and money generated from illegal activities.

He said the money received from illegal sources and stashed in Swiss banks can be restituted but for that Pakistan has to establish a case. He further said that if money was earned from legal sources but parked in Swiss banks without paying taxes to Pakistani authorities, the Swiss authorities cannot help to recover the taxes.

“The exchange of information is possible but it does not mean that Switzerland can help in tax collection”. He said after technical discussions there can be an agreement on the revised treaty, adding that if both the sides could not reach a consensus only in that case next round of talks would be held.

He said the legislation for repatriation of assets requires that the concerned funds have evidentially been acquired through illegal activities. “The simple fact that assets or income were not correctly reported to tax authorities does not itself establish a sufficient nexus between the concerned assets and illegal nature of the acquisition,” he added.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • just_someone
    Aug 25, 2014 - 8:47PM

    NS and his admin spends more time talking and less time doing…
    maybe if they just did something, the country would improve enormously

    Recommend

  • Ajamal
    Aug 25, 2014 - 9:12PM

    Mr. Ambassador, whether $200 or $100 billion. This money is hard earned by our politicians and officials and should be kept safely in your bank vaults.

    Recommend

  • Sami
    Aug 25, 2014 - 9:30PM

    Apparently the reporter has not updated his information. There is no 200 billion dollars of Pakistanis stashed away in Swiss banks. That figure has been shown to be a myth.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 25, 2014 - 9:34PM

    Pmln government is a big liar.Full of corrupt politicians.

    Recommend

  • I am a Khan
    Aug 25, 2014 - 9:35PM

    The $200 Billion now belongs to the swiss banks and the swiss people. Pakistan and Pakistanis can forget about their $200 Billion now…corrupt politicians giving away Pakistan’s money to Switzerland :(

    Recommend

  • MK
    Aug 25, 2014 - 9:49PM

    total drama on PMLN’s part, keep it up Imran, you will be vindicated!

    Recommend

  • Hatim
    Aug 25, 2014 - 10:31PM

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

    Recommend

  • Jogger
    Aug 25, 2014 - 11:09PM

    Hold on, Wait!
    How do people expect our finance minister to exert his force and use his hollow upper part to retrieve an amount which supposedly have money stashed by Glorious Kings of Democracy, Zardari? Hypocrisy Is beyond the stretch o of imagination of of common person. I pity the commoner like me, you and other peoples whose hard earned money goes into the account of politicians

    Recommend

  • Aug 25, 2014 - 11:27PM

    zardari the master manipulator did his job right, all the stolen money and have won concessions from govt to be on the govt side. ik and the canadian munafiq mula are the ones to be blamed for putting unnecessary pressure on govt that the govt is forced to negotiate with a crook like zardari

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 26, 2014 - 12:09AM

    They actually took our Finance Ministers words seriously…….. wow !

    Recommend

  • Jawaid
    Aug 26, 2014 - 1:46AM

    @Sami:
    It must be there, if you count the money deposited by Ayub, ziaul and Mush. the trio looted Pakistan for around 30 years. Why no one cares to recover this money?

    Recommend

  • Ranjha
    Aug 26, 2014 - 3:57AM

    It was a typo. The actual amount was $2000, deposited by Hunza Sharif who runs a kebab shop on a street behind Bahnhofstrausse with a clear view on the Frauenbad!

    Recommend

  • Nida Ali
    Aug 26, 2014 - 4:24AM

    Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc George ‘said Pakistan and Switzerland had in May 2005 signed an agreement for sharing of confiscated assets and money generated from illegal activities.’ This was during Musharraf’s time! No doubt Musharraf was better than all these blood-sucking politicians.

    Recommend

  • Saleem
    Aug 26, 2014 - 6:00AM

    Pakistani Politician: No lie is too big, no robbery is too small.

    Recommend

  • Ali. I
    Aug 26, 2014 - 6:17AM

    PPP & PMLN save that money in Swiss banks to bring it back??? Not really!!!

    Recommend

  • Prognosticator
    Aug 26, 2014 - 8:35AM

    Pakistanis have NO IDEA what a billion dollar is. They imagine that their nation is Saudi Arabia or something. $200 billion?? But like everything else in Pakistan, who cares about truth anyway?

    Recommend

  • hellboy
    Aug 26, 2014 - 9:26AM

    India under modi NDA govt. already created a SIT(special investigation team) and they already
    got all account info from swiss banks,german banks and from singapore banks and are in process to deal with in tax evading.

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  • salman
    Aug 26, 2014 - 5:49PM

    Dar is a habitual liar. What else can you expect from someone who has confessed to money laundering? And after all , PMLN are hardly going to be going after Zardari’s millions after inviting him for lunch last sat.Recommend

  • Shoaib
    Aug 27, 2014 - 2:44AM

    Swiss banks are well known to stash corruption money of dictators world wide. Shame on Swiss Banks

    Recommend

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