Indians' money in Swiss banks hit record low of 676 mn francs

By: PTI
Updated: 29 Jun 2017 09:00 PM
New Delhi: Money parked by Indians in Switzerland's banks nearly halved to 676 Swiss francs (about Rs 4,500 crore) in 2016 to hit a record low amid a continuing clampdown on the suspected black money stashed behind their famed secrecy walls.

In comparison, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks somewhat rose to CHF 1.42 trillion or about Rs 96 lakh crore (from CHF 1.41 trillion a year ago).


The total funds held by Indians directly with Swiss banks stood at CHF 664.8 million at the end of 2016, while the same held through fiduciaries was nearly USD 11 million, as per the latest data published today by the country's central banking authority SNB (Swiss National Bank).

The total money of Indians fell by 45 per cent during 2016 to CHF 675.75 million, marking the biggest ever yearly decline in such funds.

This included nearly CHF 377 million in form of customer deposits, about CHF 98 million owed to Indians through other banks and CHF 190 million in form of other 'liabilities'.

The figures fell sharply across all categories last year, the SNB data showed.

This is the lowest amount of funds held by Indians in the Swiss banks ever since the Alpine nation began making the data public in 1987 and marks the third straight year of decline.

The funds held through fiduciaries or wealth managers alone used to be in billions till 2007 but has been falling amid fears of regulatory crackdown.

The funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at a record high of CHF 6.5 billion (Rs 23,000 crore) at 2006-end, but has now come down to nearly one-tenth of that level in about a decade.

The quantum of these funds has been falling since then, except for in 2011 and in 2013 when Indians' money had risen by over 12 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively.

As per the available data since 1987, the earlier lowest ever figure was recorded in 1995 at CHF 723 million.

The latest data from Zurich-based SNB comes ahead of a new framework for automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace.

While Switzerland has already begun sharing foreign client details on evidence of wrongdoing provided by India and some other countries, it has agreed to further expand its cooperation on India's fight against black money with a new pact for automatic information exchange from next year.

There have been several rounds of discussions between Indian and Swiss government officials on the new framework and also for expediting the pending information requests about suspected illicit accounts of Indians in Swiss banks.

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, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries.

There is a view that the Indians alleged to have parked their illicit money in Swiss banks in the past may have shifted the funds to other locations after a global clampdown began on the mighty banking secrecy practices in Switzerland.

Swiss banks have also said Indians have "few deposits" in Swiss banks compared to other global financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong amid stepped-up efforts to check the black money menace.

On directions of the Supreme Court, 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.

A number of strategies have been deployed by the government to combat the stash-funds menace, in both overseas and domestic domain, which include enactment of a new law to tackle stashing of black money abroad, amendments in the anti-money laundering Act and compliance windows for people to declare their hidden assets.

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