Deposits made by Indians in Swiss banks went up by over 40% last year, according to Switzerland’s central bank on Thursday.
While the nature of these funds -- and whether they were channelled out from India illegally -- was not ascertained, the latest data may raise concerns for a new government that made the retrieval of black money a campaign peg and set up a high-power panel for it in one of its initial decisions.
Indians now have a total of 2 billion Swiss francs (nearly `14,000 crore) parked in Swiss accounts, according to the Zurich-based Swiss National Bank. They were also the only ones who funnelled more money into Swiss accounts in 2013, while deposits from other foreign nationals came down to record lows.
In 2012, deposits from Indians had fallen by a third.
In total, around 1.32 trillion Swiss francs (about $1.56 trillion or over 90 lakh crore) were deposited in Swiss accounts in 2013.
The total Indian money held in Swiss banks included 1.95 billion Swiss francs held directly by Indian individuals and entities, and another 77.3 million Swiss francs through 'fiduciaries' or wealth managers at the end of 2013.
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 towards 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.
The Swiss National Bank said that the focus of banks in the country continues to shift away from foreign clients to domestic business, as reflected in the decline in their overall amounts due to overseas customers.
There are a total of 283 banks in Switzerland, down from nearly 300 at the beginning of 2013. This include two banks (UBS and Credit Suisse) classified as big banks, while there are 93 foreign-controlled banks operating in the country.
While a new treaty between India and Switzerland for sharing of information on issues related to tax crimes on a prospective basis, Switzerland has also agreed to a limited retrospective clause for such information exchange in case of India.
While India has been stepping up pressure for data on alleged illicit funds parked in Swiss banks, Switzerland has said it cannot positively respond to requests which are beyond the ambit of bilateral tax treaty.
The Swiss government's latest response came against the backdrop of former finance minister P Chidambaram shooting off numerous letters to his Swiss counterpart raising concerns about the Alpine nation denying information on alleged unaccounted money held by Indians in banks in Switzerland.