Black Money: India to get Swiss bank details – PTI

Dollars

Press Trust of India Logo“The official data published by Switzerland’s central bank, SNB, has shown that Indian money in various Swiss banks rose by 43 per cent during 2013 to close to Rs 14,000 crore, while including the money held directly by Indian clients and those through fiduciaries or wealth managers.”- PTI

Justice M. B. ShahIndia’s efforts to crackdown on black money stashed abroad on Sunday got a major boost with Switzerland readying a list of Indians suspected to have un-taxed money in Swiss banks, while special investigation team constituted by Indian government promised action if any illegality is found.

The names of certain Indian individuals and entities came under the scanner of the Swiss authorities during an ongoing exercise to identify the real beneficiary owners of funds held in various banks operating in Switzerland, a senior Swiss government official told PTI.

The list of such people and entities is being shared with India, while further details would also be provided in due course and all necessary administrative assistance would be made available as well, he said.

Reacting to the development, Justice M. B. Shah, who is heading the SIT on black money in India, said that the list would be verified and action would be taken against those found to have kept unaccountable money.

The Swiss government official refused to divulge the identity of the concerned entities as also the quantum of funds involved, citing the confidentiality clause of the information exchange framework between India and Switzerland.

He, however, said that they are suspected to have held untaxed money in Swiss banks through structures like trusts, domiciliary companies and other legal entities based out of countries other than India.

The Indian link of these entities came to the fore after enquiries by the banks and regulatory authorities about the source of the funds and the beneficiary ownership of such accounts.

Indian Black MoneyThe development comes at a time when the official data published by Switzerland’s central bank, SNB, has shown that Indian money in various Swiss banks rose by 43 per cent during 2013 to close to Rs 14,000 crore, while including the money held directly by Indian clients and those through fiduciaries or wealth managers.

The Swiss official said that these funds might not necessarily be illicit funds as these clients have themselves declared to be Indians.

He also dismissed claims about Indians having trillions of dollars of black money in Swiss banks, saying that the total size of foreign money from across the world in all 283 banks operating in Switzerland stands at just about $1.6 trillion.

Justice Shah also said, “… It is not a list of only black money. It is a list of those persons who are also legally vested. It is a combined list. We are asking for the list of the said persons. Then we will verify. Then action is taken.”

“If it is legal we cannot do anything, If it is illegal or unaccounted money then we take action. It depends on which manner the amount is deposited,” he added.

The Swiss government official also said that Switzerland is looking forward to working with the new government in India and it will also extend all possible support to the SIT on black money.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who has been a petitioner in Supreme Court in the black money case, said from London, “I am very happy and feeling relaxed today and I am hopeful that the NDA government will take the fullest possible advantage of this information.

“So much of wealth is stolen from India and they will be punished. The money will be used to eradicate poverty and all other ills of the society.”

Sonia GandhiAAP leader and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that SIT was formed on the orders of the Supreme Court, so government need not take credit for this.

“And if Swiss government will share any formation that is a welcome step. But government must stop illicit flow of money into such instruments such as p-notes and the money into the companies which are registered in tax havens,” he told reporters in Delhi.

While declining to be named, as he is not authorized to speak to media, the Swiss official further said the details are being shared with India on a “spontaneous” basis and are different from the information sought earlier by the Indian authorities on the basis of “leaked” or “stolen” lists of certain banks, including the so-called “HSBC list”.

Swiss government has been refusing to share details about the Indians named in this “HSBC list”, which was stolen by a bank employee and later found its way to tax authorities in various countries including India.

Despite repeated requests from India, Switzerland has said its local laws prohibit administrative assistance in matters where information has been sourced illegally, including through stolen lists.

The said ‘HSBC list’ allegedly contains names of Indians and other foreign nationals having ill-gotten wealth in Swiss unit of the global banking major.

India is one of the 36 countries with which Switzerland has signed treaties to provide administrative assistance in tax matters in accordance with international standards. – Times of India, 23 June 2014

HSBC Bank, Geneva, Switzerland

UBS LondonTwo big banks have 2/3rd of all Swiss money of Indians – PTI

It is just two big banks — UBS and Credit Suisse — which appear to be accounting for almost two-third of the total money held by Indians in Swiss banking system, known for their famed secrecy walls.

According to the latest official data disclosed by Switzerland’s central banking authority Swiss National Bank (SNB), Indians’ money in Swiss banks rose by 43 per cent last year to 2.03 billion Swiss francs (nearly Rs 14,000 crore), despite growing global pressure on Switzerland to share client details of their banks.

Credit Suisse ZurichA further analysis of SNB data shows that the “big banks” account for 68.2 per cent or about 1.4 billion Swiss francs (close to Rs 10,000 crore) of the total money belonging to the Indian clients of Swiss banks.

There are a total of 283 banks in Switzerland, out of which only two — UBS and Credit Suisse — have been classified as ‘big banks’ by Zurich-based SNB. There are also 93 foreign-controlled banks operating in the country.

However, the amount held by Indian clients in “savings and deposit accounts” of Swiss banks is comparatively less at about 63 million Swiss francs (less than Rs 500 crore) and account for just about three per cent of the total exposure of Indians to the Swiss banking system.

Swiss banks classify a major portion of their clients’ money as “other amounts due to customers” and such funds due to their Indian clients stand at nearly 1.6 billion Swiss francs (over Rs 11,000 crore).

The “other” avenues through which clients park their funds with Swiss banks include “trading portfolios, financial investments and participating interests”. Besides, banks are also said to be promoting “precious metals” among their clients for parking their funds.

A small portion of clients’ money is also held by Swiss banks through other banks in the foreign countries. For Indian clients, such funds stood at about 94 million Swiss francs (about Rs 650 crore) at the end of 2013.

The total Indian money held in Swiss banks include 1.95 billion Swiss francs held directly by Indian individuals and entities, and another 77.3 million Swiss francs through ‘fiduciaries’ or wealth managers at the end of 2013.

Swiss National Bank Hqs in BernThe latest data from Zurich-based SNB comes at a time when Switzerland is facing growing pressure from India and many other countries to share foreign client details, while its own lawmakers are resisting such measures.

India has also constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe cases of alleged black money of Indians, including funds stashed abroad in places like Switzerland.

The funds, described by SNB as “liabilities” of Swiss banks or ‘amounts due to’ their their clients, are the official figures disclosed by the Swiss authorities and do not indicate towards the quantum of the much-debated alleged black money held by Indians in the safe havens of Switzerland. – Times of India, 20 June 2014

Pictet & Cie Bank, Geneva, Switzerland
The alleged Gandhi bank accounts are  in Pictet & Cie Bank, Zurich, and Sarasin Bank, Basel. Pope Francis recently had Sonia Gandhi’s Vatican Bank account closed as it was a numbered account and she refused to disclose her identity. The $10bn in the Vatican account was moved to Switzerland. Because Sonia holds dual nationality India may not be able to get the money back. She will have made the accounts in her birth name as an Italian national and Swiss authorities will say India has no locus standi and no claim on her billions. 

Sarasin Bank