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Sabeha Mir Scrutiny of Mir family broadens over Swiss accounts

The Mir family built their business by selling silk carpets woven by weavers in their native Kashmir


Swiss authorities have received requests for information concerning alleged Swiss bank accounts held by Sabeha Mir, a member of the Mir family that owns high-end handicraft shops and department stores in India and abroad. She is the fourth family member to be investigated. 

The Swiss Federal Tax Administration had issued a notice on Tuesday naming the 50-year-old in connection with an “administrative assistance” request. She is a director at the Indian handicrafts retailer Cottage Industries Expositionexternal link, as well as Saga Department Stores. 

Exactly a month earlier, a similar announcement was made by the Swiss authorities naming her family members: father and chairman of Cottage Industries Exposition Abdul Rashid Mir, sister Tabasum Mir and late brother Mujeeb Mir. Separate notices also named the company Cottage Industries Exposition, as well as a Panama-based firm Mondale SAexternal link that was incorporated by the discredited firm Mossack Fonseca and mentioned in the 2016 Panama Papers leak. 

Cottage Industries Exposition has over a 100 outlets in ten countries selling handcrafts like silk carpets, pashmina shawls and reproductions of Islamic art. The company’s website claims illustrious clients like Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Madonna and Paul McCartney. 

Sabeha Mir has ten days to name a Swiss representative to receive the notifications. She can appeal against the final decision of the Swiss Federal Tax Administration regarding whether to share information on financial transactions. 

New era

Request for information of this kind will soon become a thing of the past. As of 2017, the ‘Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters’ has come into effect in Switzerland. Now countries with which Switzerland has signed agreements no longer need to request information on their citizen’s Swiss bank accounts. The data will be handed over automatically once a year. However, this data can only be used for tax collection efforts and cannot be made public.   

Switzerland will begin collecting such data from 2017 onwards and begin sharing it with select countries from 2018. India will have to wait until 2019 for the first data exchange.

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