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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

Data shows increase in Swiss bank stash of Indians

Noopur Tiwari, Hindustan Times  Paris, June 20, 2014
First Published: 00:49 IST(20/6/2014) | Last Updated: 01:42 IST(20/6/2014)

Indians’ money in Swiss banks jumped 40% to nearly two billion Swiss Francs (CHF), or Rs. 14,000 crore, in 2013 from 1.34 billion CHF (Rs 9,514 crore) the previous year despite a global move against Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws.

Data released Thursday by the Alpine nation’s central banking authority, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), show that at the end of 2013, Indians held 1.59 billion CHF (Rs 10,000 crore) as “other amounts” in various Swiss banks. Another 157 million CHF (Rs 1,100 crore) were held through Indian banks, and savings or deposit accounts.

SNB data are drawn from information provided by 80 Swiss banks as part of a mandatory disclosure.

Besides, 77 million CHF ( Rs. 515 crore) were held through ‘fiduciaries’ or wealth fund managers who hold the money of Indian private holders and families in numbered accounts.

The “other amounts”, often called the “black books” figure by tax activists because of the difficultly in tracking the source of these funds, grew 72% from the previous year’s 920 million Swiss Francs (Rs 6,200 crore).

These official figures do not reflect Indian money routed to Switzerland through tax havens such as Mauritius or Cayman Islands and could therefore underestimate the real amount of assets held by Indians in Swiss banks.

Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws are more than 100 years old but global pressure on increased transparency has been mounting.

The money held in Swiss banks by their foreign clients from across the world continued to decline and stood at a record low of 1.32 trillion CHF (around Rs. 90 lakh crore) at the end of 2013.

Read: NDA govt forms crack team to probe black money

Last month, the Modi government formed a special investigative team (SIT) to probe black money, handing out a sweeping mandate to the panel to crack down on India’s infamous and bustling parallel economy.

The Supreme Court had directed the government to constitute a SIT to investigate individuals whose names were disclosed by Germany for having accounts in LGT Bank in Liechtenstein — a European principality known for its banking secrecy laws.

India has stepped up pressure on Switzerland to provide information about persons holding bank accounts against whom “incriminating evidence of tax evasion” has been found.


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