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Will Get All Black Money Data from Switzerland by Next Year: Piyush Goyal

According to a recent data, money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose over 50 percent to Rs 7,000 crore in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend.

Updated:June 29, 2018, 7:19 PM IST
Will Get All Black Money Data from Switzerland by Next Year: Piyush Goyal
File photo of Piyush Goyal.
New Delhi: Union minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the Centre will get all data related to black money by next year.

This comes immediately after recent data showed that money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose over 50 percent to Rs 7,000 crore in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend amid India's clampdown on black money stashed there.

Goyal said India would start getting details of bank accounts from Switzerland under a bilateral treaty. He also wondered how all of the deposits in Swiss banks can be assumed to be black money, but said strong action would be taken against anyone found guilty of wrongdoing.​

In comparison, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks rose about 3 percent to 1.46 trillion or about Rs 100 lakh crore in 2017, according to the official annual data released by Swiss National Bank (SNB), the central banking authority of the Alpine nation.

The surge in Indian money held with Swiss banks comes as a surprise given India's continuing clampdown on black money stashed abroad, including in banks of Switzerland that used to be known for their famed secrecy walls for years.

The Indian money in Swiss banks had fallen by 45 per cent in 2016, marking their biggest ever yearly plunge, to 676 million (about Rs 4,500 crore) — the lowest ever since the European nation began making the data public in 1987.

According to the SNB data, the total funds held by Indians directly with Swiss banks rose to 999 million Swiss franc (Rs 6,891 crore) in 2017, while the same held through fiduciaries or wealth managers increased to 16.2 million (Rs 112 crore). These figures stood at 664.8 million and 11 million, respectively, at the end of 2016.

As per the latest data, the Indian money in Swiss banks included 464 million (Rs 3,200 crore) in the form of customer deposits, 152 million (Rs 1,050 crore) through other banks and 383 million (Rs 2,640 crore) as 'other liabilities' such as securities at the end of 2017.

The funds under all three heads have risen sharply, as against a huge plunge across all categories in the previous year, the SNB data showed.

The funds held through fiduciaries alone used to be in billions till 2007 but began falling after that amid fears of regulatory crackdown.

The total funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at a record high of 6.5 billion (Rs 23,000 crore) at 2006-end, but came down to nearly one-tenth of that level in about a decade.

Since those record levels, this is only the third time when there has been a rise in Indians' money in Swiss banks in 2011 (12 per cent), 2013 (43 per cent) and now in 2017 by 50.2 per cent — the maximum increase since 56 per cent way back in 2004.

The latest data from Zurich-based SNB comes months after a new framework having been put in place for automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace.

Amid a decline seen in Indian money over the previous three years, there was a view that Indians who had allegedly parked their illicit money in Swiss banks in the past may have shifted the funds to other locations after a global crackdown began on the mighty banking secrecy practices in Switzerland.

Swiss banks have earlier 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.

On directions of the Supreme Court, India had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe cases of alleged black money of Indians, including funds stashed abroad in places like Switzerland.

A number of strategies were deployed by the government to combat the stash-funds menace, in both overseas and domestic domain, which included enactment of a new law, amendments in the Anti-Money Laundering Act and compliance windows for people to declare their hidden assets.

The tax department had detected suspected black money running into thousands of crores of rupees post investigations on global leaks about Indians stashing funds abroad and has launched prosecution against hundreds of them, including those with accounts in the Geneva branch of HSBC.

Earlier in 2015, the money held by Indians in Swiss banks had fallen by nearly one-third to 1,217.6 million (over Rs 8,000 crore). Prior to that, these funds fell by 10 per cent to 1.8 billion in 2014, after a rise of 43 per cent in 2013 to 2.03 billion.

The total assets of Swiss banks in India, however, fell by about 18 per cent in 2017 to 3.2 billion in second consecutive year of decline. This does not include any tangible assets like real estate and properties.

The amount owed by Indian clients to Swiss banks fell by 48 per cent in 2017 to 210 million.
| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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