India has slipped to 70th position in terms of foreign money lying with Swiss banks and accounts for a meagre 0.10 per cent of total global wealth held in the country’s banking system.
While much hue and cry is made over huge amounts of illicit wealth stashed by Indians in Swiss banks, the latest official data released by Switzerland’s central bank shows that the money they owed to Indian clients at the end of last year was 1.42 billion Swiss francs (about Rs 9,000 crore).
While the UK continues to account for the largest chunk of such funds, India has now slipped lower to 70th position – the lowest rank among all major economies of the world, shows an analysis of annual data released by Swiss National Bank (SNB) on all the banks present in the European country.
India was ranked 55th for such funds a year ago with a total amount of 2.18 billion Swiss francs belonging to Indian individuals.
Among the top-ten jurisdictions in terms of source of money with Swiss banks, the UK is now followed by the US, West Indies, Jersey, Guernsey, Germany, France, Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Hong Kong.
The funds owed by the Swiss banks to their UK clients stood at 295 billion Swiss francs, accounting for about 22 per cent of total funds (over 1.4 trillion Swiss francs).
The major countries ranked among the top-25 include Singapore, Japan, Italy, Australia, Russia, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus.
Besides, China was ranked 26th, Canada 28th, Brazil at 39th and South Africa at 50th. India’s neighbour, Pakistan, was also ranked one place higher at 69th, although countries like Mauritius, Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Libya, Brunei and Sri Lanka are positioned below India.
As per SNB data, the Swiss banks saw a decline in funds belonging to most of their foreign clients during 2012 and the funds belonging to their domestic clients surpassed those of overseas ones for the first time in their history.
The total funds with Swiss banks slipped by over nine per cent to a record low of 1.4 trillion Swiss francs at the end of 2012, while money parked by Indians also hit a record low with a fall of about 35 per cent during the year, as a global clampdown against the famed secrecy wall of Switzerland banking system made it unattractive for their global clients.
The total funds held by Indian individuals and entities included 1.34 billion Swiss francs held directly by Indian individuals and entities, and another 77 million Swiss francs through ‘fiduciaries’ at the end of 2012.
Fiduciaries are essentially wealth fund managers who hold the money of Indian private holders and families in the so-called numbered accounts.
The Swiss banks’ direct liabilities towards clients from India include funds held in savings and deposit accounts by Indian individuals, financial institutions and corporates.
The data has been released at a time when Switzerland is facing growing pressure from the US and other countries to share foreign client details, while its own lawmakers are resisting such measures.
The funds, described by SNB as ‘liabilities’ of Swiss banks towards their clients from India, are the official figures disclosed by the Swiss authorities and do not indicate the quantum of the much-debated alleged black money held by Indians in the safe havens of Switzerland.
SNB’s official figures do not include the money Indians or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of others.
The sharp decline in Indian money in Swiss banks during 2012 followed a significant increase in the previous year, when such funds had risen for the first time in five years.
The quantum of funds held by Indians in Swiss banks stood at a record high level of 6.5 billion Swiss francs (over Rs 41,000 crore) at the end of 2006, but has declined by over five billion Swiss francs (over Rs 32,000 crore) since then.
For clients across the world, the total funds in Swiss banks stood at a record high level of USD 2.6 trillion at the end of 2007, but has fallen by over USD one trillion since then.
In a White Paper on black money tabled in Parliament last year, the Indian government said that the total liabilities of Swiss banks towards Indians has been declining since 2006 and fell by more than Rs 14,000 crore during 2006-2010 period.
Amid allegations of Indians stashing illicit wealth abroad, including in Swiss banks, the government has said that it is making various efforts to bring back the unaccounted money.
While a new treaty has been put in place for sharing 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.