Money in Swiss banks: India slips to 88th place; U.K. on top

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A file photo of the headquarters of the Swiss central bank in Bern, Switzerland.

India has slipped to 88th place in terms of money parked by its citizens with Swiss banks, while the U.K. remains on the top.

Also, the money officially held by Indians with banks in Switzerland now accounts for a meagre 0.04% 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 2016-end.

India was placed at 75th position in 2015 and at 61st in the year before that, 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 latest data from Zurich-based SNB comes ahead of a new framework for automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace.

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 to 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, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries.

There is a view that the Indians alleged to have parked their illicit money in Swiss banks in the past may have shifted the funds to other locations after a global clampdown began on the mighty banking secrecy practices in Switzerland.

Swiss banks have also said Indians have “few deposits” in Swiss banks compared to other global financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong amid stepped-up efforts to check the black money menace.

The total money held in Swiss banks by foreign clients from across the world, incidentally rose by a small margin from 1.41 trillion Swiss francs (CHF) to CHF 1.42 trillion during 2016.

In terms of individual countries, the UK accounted for the largest chunk at about CHF 359 (over 25%) of the total foreign money with Swiss banks.

The U.S. came second with nearly CHF 177 billion or about 14%. No other country accounted for a double-digit percentage share, while others in the top-ten included West Indies, France, Bahamas, Germany, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong and Luxembourg.

Indians’ share not even one-hundredth of the total money.

India is now ranked 88th with 676 million Swiss francs (about ₹4,500 crore) — a record low after falling for three consecutive years amid a continuing clampdown on the suspected black money stashed behind their famed secrecy walls.

The share of Indians’ money in the total foreign funds of Swiss banks also fell to 0.04% (from 0.08% in 2015).

Pakistan continued to remain placed higher than India at 71st place (although down from 69th in 2015) with about CHF 1.4 billion — though down to below 0.1% of total foreign money parked with Swiss banks.

India was also the lowest ranked among the BRICS nations — Russia was ranked 19th (CHF 15.6 billion), China 25th (CHF 9.6 billion), Brazil 52nd (CHF 2.7 billion) and South Africa 61st (CHF 2.2 billion).

Among these five, only China has moved up.

Others ranked higher than India included Mauritius, Iran, Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Angola, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada and Mexico.

A number of offshore financial centres are also ranked higher including Cayman Islands, Panama, Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Bermuda, Seychelles, Isle of Man and Gibraltar.

Among India’s neighbouring countries, Bangladesh was ranked 89th (CHF 667.5 million), while Nepal was 150th (CHF 312 million), Sri Lanka was 151st (CHF 307 million) and Bhutan was way below at 282nd (about half a million Swiss francs).

The total money belonging to the developed countries fell to CHF 824 billion, while those from developing nations actually rose marginally to CHF 208 million.

The money from developing economies in Asia-Pacific region rose to CHF 50 billion.

The funds parked in Swiss banks from offshore financial centres rose to CHF 389 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.