Zurich/New Delhi: India has moved up to 73rd place in terms of money parked by its citizens and companies with Swiss banks, while the UK remains on the top.
India had slipped to 88th place with a 44% plunge in such funds during 2016, but the latest data from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) shows an increase of over 50% during 2017 to CHF 1.01 billion (about Rs7,000 crore).
Pakistan is now placed one place higher than India at 72nd position, down one slot, after 21% dips in funds from that country in Swiss banks during 2017. The funds, described by SNB as ‘liabilities’ of Swiss banks or ‘amounts due to’ their clients, are official figures disclosed by Swiss authorities and do not indicate to the exact quantum of the much-debated alleged black money held in famed safe havens of Switzerland.
The official figures, disclosed annually by Switzerland’s central bank, also do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries. It has been often alleged that Indians and other nationals seeking to stash their illicit wealth abroad use multiple layers of various jurisdictions, including tax havens, to shift the money in Swiss banks.
Also, with Switzerland putting in place an automatic information exchange framework with India and various other countries, the famed secrecy walls of Swiss banks are said to have crumbled. India will start getting this automatic data from next year, while it has already been getting information on accounts where proof of illicit funds can be furnished.
However, the increase in Indians’ money in Swiss banks has already triggered a sharp opposition attack on the government, which in turn has said that it would be wrong to assume that all funds deposited in Swiss banks were ‘black money’ and strong action would be taken against wrongdoers.
The funds officially held by Indians with banks in Switzerland now accounts for only 0.07%, though up from 0.04% a year ago, of the total funds kept by all foreign clients in the Swiss banking system, as per an analysis of the latest figures compiled by the SNB (Swiss National Bank) as on 2017-end.
India was placed at 75th position in 2015 and at 61st in the year before, though it used to be among top-50 countries in terms of holdings in Swiss banks till 2007. The country was ranked highest at 37th place in the year 2004.
The total money held in Swiss banks by foreign clients from across the world rose by about 3% to CHF 1.46 trillion (about Rs100 trillion) in 2017. In terms of individual countries, the UK continued to account for the largest chunk at about CHF 403 billion (over 27%) of the total foreign money with Swiss banks.
The UK saw an increase of over 12% in such funds. The US remains on the second position despite a dip of about 6% in such funds to CHF 166 billion (11% share of all foreign funds). No other country accounted for a double-digit percentage share, while others in the top-ten included West Indies, France, Hong Kong, Bahamas, Germany, Guernsey, Luxembourg and Cayman Islands.
Among BRICS countries, India remains to rank the lowest—China at 20th place (CHF 160 billion with an increase of 67% during 2017), Russia at 23rd (CHF 135 billion after 13% fall), Brazil 61st (CHF 1.9 billion after 28% fall) and South Africa 67th (CHF 1.5 billion after 31% dip).
Among these five, only China and India saw an increase in their funds. Others ranked higher than India are: Singapore, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Japan, Jersey, Australia, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Israel, Mexico, Bermuda, Turkey, Kuwait, Marshall Islands, Canada, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Belize, Isle of Man, Indonesia, Seychelles, Gibraltar, Samoa, New Zealand, Philippines, Iran, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Those ranked below India were Mauritius (77th place), Bangladesh (95th), Sri Lanka (108th), Nepal (112th), Vatican City State (122nd), Iraq (132nd), Afghanistan (155th), Burkina Faso (162nd), Bhutan (203rd), North Korea (205th) and Palau was last at 214th place.
The total money belonging to the developed countries rose 10% to CHF 876 billion, while those from developing nations rose marginally to CHF 209 billion. The offshore financial centres actually saw a dip of 3% to CHF 378 billion.
India was ranked in top-50 continuously between 1996 and 2007, but started declining after that—55th in 2008, 59th in 2009 and 2010 each, 55th again in 2011, 71st in 2012 and then to 58th in 2013. In terms of percentage increase, India’s 50% rise was 23rd highest.
The maximum increase of as much as 4,000% was seen by Solomon Islands, followed by over 2,200% for Faroe Islands and 1,200% for British Indian Ocean Territory.
The increase was more than 100% for Maldives, Grenada, Turkmenistan, Laos, Lesotho, Qatar, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Federated States of Micronesia, Equatorial Guinea; and Sao Tome and Principe.
Others with higher increase than India’s were Guyana, Mongolia, Barbados, Cote d’Ivoire, South Sudan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Ireland. The jurisdictions that saw the maximum decline in such funds included Palau, St Helena and Gambia, while North Korea, Bhutan, Macao, Burkina Faso and Iraq also recorded significant dips.