ISLAMABAD - Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal on Friday told the National Assembly that the PML-N government would bring back assets of the country illegally deposited with the Swiss banks, adding a Pakistani delegation would visit Switzerland within three months to negotiate a Pak-Swiss treaty.
“A Pakistani delegation will visit Switzerland from August 26 to August 28 to negotiate with the Swiss authorities to upgrade the Pak-Swiss Tax Treaty,”' said Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal, responding to a question raised by PTI lawmaker Arif Alvi.
This treaty would help exchange confidential information regarding the ill-gotten moneys stashed up in clandestine Swiss banking industry, he said, responding to a query regarding the government’s steps to bring back the money from the Swiss banks. The Swiss authorities have claimed that around 200 billion dollars of various Pakistanis were currently stashed in 11 the Swiss banks.
About the question regarding use of Restitution of Illicit Assets Act 2010 (RIAA), the parliamentary secretary said the incumbent government was keen to seek the help of this new Swiss law which allowed the Swiss government to exchange confidential information on this issue.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, in a written reply, said the federal government was seriously working to seek help of the new Swiss laws, popularly known as Restitution of Illicit Assets Act, 2010 (RIAA) allowing the Swiss government to exchange confidential information about the ill-gotten money stashed up in the clandestine Swiss banking industry.
“The operational design through which advantage of the changes in the Swiss laws can be taken is by amending/renegotiating the existing Pak-Swiss Tax Treaty,” he said and added a summary had been placed before the federal cabinet, seeking its approval to re-negotiate the existing Pakistan-Switzerland Tax Treaty.
He further said the federal cabinet had approved the summary at its meeting held on September 20, 2013. “As per the procedure, the FBR forthwith took up the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to approach the government of Switzerland to renegotiate the existing tax treaty and seek a suitable set of dates and choice of venue to start the negotiations at the earliest possible date,” he added.
He said the Swiss authorities had expressed willingness to renegotiate the tax treaty either on July 8-10, 2014, or August 26-28, 2014. “The Federal Board of Revenue has accepted the Swiss proposal to hold negotiations on August 26-28, 2014, to upgrade the existing Pak-Swiss Tax Treaty,” he added.
AFP adds: Pakistan is to hold talks with Switzerland on a new tax treaty in the hope of retrieving the state assets illegally stashed in the European country’s secretive banking system. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the parliament that negotiations on a revised agreement with Switzerland would be held from August 26 to 28.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who left the office last September after five years, was accused, along with his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, of using Swiss banks for plunder.
Switzerland enacted a new law in 2011 to make it easier for the countries to recover assets stolen by politicians and hidden in its banks. In early 2012, Switzerland said it had returned $1.83 billion in illicitly-placed assets to the countries involved in the Arab Spring regime changes, but Pakistan’s current tax agreement does not allow it to take advantage of the law.