It’s official now. Indians hold about $2.5 billion (over Rs11,000 crore) in Swiss banks, but this figure of Switzerland’s central bank may be a gross understatement of the total wealth directly and indirectly held there by entities from India.
The ever-growing judicial scrutiny and political outcry over alleged stashing of black money in Swiss banks also seems to be forcing Indian entities to move their monies to other safe havens like the Middle East, Singapore and Mauritius.
Some half a billion dollars have been moved out in the last three years, according to the central bank’s figures.
In the first-ever disclosure of money held in various Swiss banks by Indians, Swiss National Bank (SNB) has said the quantum of such deposits stood at 1.945 billion Swiss francs (about $2.5 billion) at the end of 2010.
Giving a break-up of this amount, Walter Meier, the spokesperson for the SNB President, said this included about $2.1 billion in the form of savings and deposits by Indian individuals, financial institutions and corporates.
The remaining about $400 million is of fiduciaries largely operating for private individuals from India.
Meier, however, said the bank had no further information when asked about the identity of these funds.
He further said that two of the largest Swiss banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, account for a vast majority of the deposits of entities from India.
Out of the 1.66 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion) held by Indian individuals and institutions at the end of 2010, the two banks accounted for 1.02 Swiss francs ($1.5 billion) and the remaining 636 Swiss francs ($775 million) are held in Swiss cantonal banks and private banks, he added.
Experts say that the fiduciaries are essentially wealth fund managers who hold the money of Indian private holders and families in the so-called numbered accounts.
A private banker, on condition of anonymity, said the actual deposits by Indians could be as high as $15-20 billion, but also rubbished the figure of $1.5 trillion that has been reported from time to time.