Zurich | Money held by Indians in Swiss banks fell by over 10 per cent last year to 1.8 billion Swiss franc (about Rs 12,615 crore), amid an enhanced clampdown against the famed secrecy wall of Switzerland’s banking system by Indian and other governments.
The funds held by Indians with banks in Switzerland fell by CHF 215 million to CHF 1,815 million (1.98 billion in the US dollar terms), from 2,030 million Swiss franc, as per the latest data released today by the country’s central banking authority SNB (Swiss National Bank). This is the second lowest amount of funds held by Indians in the Swiss banks and follows an increase of over 40 per cent in the previous year, 2013.
In contrast, the money held in Swiss banks by their foreign clients from across the world surprisingly rose during 2014 to 1.5 trillion Swiss franc (USD 1.6 trillion or Rs 103 lakh crore), from about Rs 90 lakh crore at the end of 2013 — the record low level so far. During 2012, the Indians’ money in Swiss banks had fallen by over one-third to its lowest ever level of 1.42 billion Swiss franc (Rs 8,530 crore).
As per the latest data, the total Indian money held in Swiss banks at the end of 2014 included 1,776 million Swiss franc or Rs 12,350 crore held directly by Indian individuals and entities (down from 1,952 million a year ago), and another 38 million Swiss franc (down from 77.3 million Swiss francs at 2013-end) through ‘fiduciaries’ or wealth managers.
However, amounts due to customers’ savings and deposit accounts was only CHF 52 million (down from CHF 63 million a year ago), while over CHF 100 million was due through other banks and the remaining amount of well over one billion Swiss francs have been classified as other amounts due to the customers from India.
The latest data from Zurich-based SNB comes at a time when Switzerland has begun sharing foreign client details after submission of evidence of wrongdoing by India and other foreign countries. It has been facing growing pressure from India and many other countries to share foreign client details, although its own lawmakers were resisting such measures for a long time.
India has also constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe cases of alleged black money of Indians, including funds stashed abroad in places like Switzerland. The funds, described by SNB as ‘liabilities’ of Swiss banks or ‘amounts due to’ their clients, are the official figures disclosed by the Swiss authorities and do not indicate to the quantum of the much-debated alleged black money held by Indians in the safe havens of Switzerland.
SNB’s official figures also do not include the money that Indians or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries. As per the latest data, the amount held by Indians through fiduciaries has reached a record low level, while it used to be in billions till about 7 years ago.
According to the SNB data, funds held by the US entities in Swiss banks rose for the second consecutive year and stood at 244 billion Swiss franc at the end of 2014, despite a major crackdown by the American authorities against the Swiss banks. A number of other countries also saw their exposure to Swiss banks increase during the year, resulting in the rise in overall funds held by foreign clients in Switzerland’s banking institutions.
Such countries included UK, Germany, Italy and a number of other European jurisdictions. The funds of Chinese persons also rose from 6.7 billion Swiss franc to 8.1 billion Swiss franc, while that from Pakistan rose from 1.014 million Swiss franc to 1,236 million Swiss franc. Earlier, Indians’ money in Swiss banks had risen in 2012 and in 2011.
The quantum of Indian funds in Swiss banks stood at a record high level of 6.5 billion Swiss francs at the end of 2006, but it declined by more than 4 billion Swiss francs after four straight years of fall till 2010. For clients across the world, total funds in Swiss banks stood at a record high level of 2.9 trillion Swiss francs at the end of 2005, while the all-time high level in the US currency was recorded in 2007 at USD 2.4 trillion.
Amid allegations of Indians stashing huge amounts of illicit wealth abroad, including in Swiss banks, the Indian government has been saying that it was making various efforts to bring back the unaccounted money. Swiss banks’ total assets in India stood at 4.6 billion Swiss francs, including about 3.6 billion of the two big banks from Switzerland.
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