Indian money in Swiss banks falls: SNB data

This is the second-lowest total since the 723 million Swiss francs recorded over two decades ago in 1995

By PTI in Zurich and New Delhi
  • Published 28.06.19, 7:49 AM
  • Updated 28.06.19, 7:49 AM
  • 2 mins read
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The Swiss National Bank (in picture) data had shown the total liabilities of Swiss banks towards Indian clients rising by over 50 per cent in 2017 to 1.01 billion Swiss francs (Rs 7,000 crore), reversing a three-year downward trend. (iStock)

Money parked by Indian individuals and enterprises in Swiss banks fell by nearly 6 per cent in 2018 to 955 million Swiss francs (about Rs 6,757 crore), the second-lowest in more than two decades, Swiss National Bank data showed on Thursday.

The funds, described as “liabilities” of Swiss banks or “amounts due to” their clients, are the official figures reported by the banks and do not indicate the quantum of the much-debated, alleged black money held by Indians there.

The aggregate funds of all foreign clients with Swiss banks too fell by more than 4 per cent to 1.4 trillion Swiss francs (nearly Rs 99 lakh crore) in 2018, according to statistics released by the Zurich-based central banking authority.

However, the “locational banking statistics” of the Bank for International Settlement (BIS), which the Indian and Swiss governments had last year said was a more reliable measure for deposits by Indian individuals in Swiss banks, showed a greater fall of 11 per cent for 2018.

According to the SNB, its data for “total liabilities” of Swiss banks towards Indian clients takes into account all kinds of funds Indian customers hold at Swiss banks, including deposits from individuals, banks and enterprises. This includes data for the branches of Swiss banks in India, as also non-deposit liabilities.

But the official SNB figures do not include money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries.

The SNB data had shown the total liabilities of Swiss banks towards Indian clients rising by over 50 per cent in 2017 to 1.01 billion Swiss francs (Rs 7,000 crore), reversing a three-year downward trend.

However, the quantum of such funds has fallen again in 2018 to 954.71 million Swiss francs, which includes about 15 million Swiss francs held through fiduciaries or wealth managers.

This is the second-lowest total since the 723 million Swiss francs recorded over two decades ago in 1995. The lowest ever amount of 675 million Swiss francs — ever since Switzerland began making the data public in 1987 — was recorded in 2016.

The BIS data showed that the total amount outstanding to non-bank or individual Indian clients of Swiss banks fell to $84.6 million at the end of 2018 (by 11 per cent from $94.8 million at the end of 2017). The fall was much larger at 44 per cent during 2017.

The BIS publishes quarterly figures, which shows that these funds rose during the first quarter of 2018 (to $100.9 million) but declined in the three remaining quarters of the year.

The annual SNB data has shown a decline four times during the last five years. The fall was the maximum at 45 per cent in 2016. The funds held by Indians through fiduciaries alone used to be in billions till 2007 but began falling after that amid fears of a regulatory crackdown.

The total funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at a record high of 6.5 billion Swiss francs (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, there has been a rise only three times — in 2011 (12 per cent), 2013 (43 per cent) and then in 2017.

Pak money

Money kept by Pakistani nationals and enterprises in Swiss banks fell by 33 per cent to a record low of 744 million Swiss francs (Rs 5,300 crore in Indian currency) in 2018, falling below the level of Indian funds for the first time in four years.

The Pakistani money in Swiss banks had fallen by over 20 per cent in 2017 and by 6 per cent in 2016. Before that in 2015, these funds had risen 16 per cent.