Black money fight: India, Seychelles sign info exchange pact

New Delhi, Aug 26 (PTI) In its fight against black money, India today signed an information exchange agreement with Seychelles on tax matters, along with pacts to deepen ties in security and defence among other areas.

While the foreign direct investments from Seychelles have been small at just about Rs 1,100 crore over the last 15 years, the Indian Ocean island nation has long been perceived as one of the preferred offshore havens for routing of funds.

The agreement on tax information exchange, signed after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Seychelles President James Alix Michel, would help curb tax evasion and provides for mutual assistance between the authorities of the two countries on enforcement action against suspected tax evaders along with other related matters.

Last week, the Union Cabinet had approved signing and ratification of this pact as part of the government’s efforts to unearth black money.

Similar pacts have already been signed with a number of other offshore tax centres such as Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino.

India and Seychelles also signed four other agreements including one on air connectivity and the other for supply of a Dornier aircraft to the island nation.

India also handed over the navigational charts relating to Aldabra island of Seychelles. Aldabra is the world’s second largest coral atop. It is home to the world’s largest population of giant tortoises and is extremely isolated, making it virtually untouched by human.

“President Michel has also been instrumental for the progress in our relationship. We value this greatly because Seychelles is a key strategic partner for India,” Modi said in his media statement.

He also said that the two countries are making good progress on the decisions taken during his “very productive” visit in March to Seychelles.

Stressing that India and Seychelles have excellent security cooperation, especially for maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, Modi said, “We are honoured to be a partner in providing aircraft, naval vessels and coastal radar systems for strengthening surveillance capacities”.

He said cooperation in hydrography surveys is also extensive and growing.

Modi also told the visiting President that India will gift one more Interceptor Coastguard boat to Seychelles.