Geneva: Amid a raging debate in India over wealth stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks, official Swiss bank figures show that the quantum of such money is only a very small fraction, or 0.07%, of the total assets of all foreigners with banks in this European nation.
As per the official figures disclosed by Switzerland’s central bank, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), total deposits of Indian individuals and companies with all the Swiss banks put together stood at about $2.5 billion at the end of 2010.
In comparison, total foreign assets worth around 2.85 trillion Swiss francs ($3.5 trillion) were parked in Swiss banks at the end of the year 2010, said a spokesperson for the Swiss Bankers’ Association, the apex body of Switzerland-based banks.
However, the actual total wealth held by entities from India directly and indirectly in Swiss banks may be much higher and some private bankers have pegged this figure at $15-20 billion.
But the figures made available by SNB showed that Indians’ money in Swiss banks was much lower than the figure for a host of other countries, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Luxembourg and Hong Kong.
The Indian figure is in fact far lower than many developing countries as well, such as Russia, Brazil, China, Turkey, Ukraine, Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Liberia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
Even the figure for Pakistan, 1,947 million Swiss francs, is marginally higher by 2 million Swiss francs
Indians’ deposits of $2.5 billion (about 1,945 million Swiss francs) comprised about 1.66 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion) held by Indian individuals and institutions and about 287 million Swiss francs ($355 million) by trusts.
Compared to this, individuals and entities from the UK had 324 billion Swiss francs ($400 billion) and those in the US had over 240 billion Swiss francs ($300 billion) - making them the two largest groups in terms of money held in Swiss banks.
Among developing countries, Russia accounted for over 10 billion Swiss francs (over $12 billion), Brazil about 5 billion Swiss francs ($6 billion), China 4.3 billion Swiss francs ($5.3 billion) and Taiwan close to 10 billion Swiss francs ($USD 12 billion).
Individuals and institutions from Pakistan accounted for 1.64 billion Swiss francs, while fiduciaries or trusts had 306 million Swiss francs, taking their total to 1.947 billion Swiss francs.
The Asia-Pacific countries accounting for figures lower than India included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Among developed countries, Finland, Denmark, Portugal, Norway, Iceland and the Vatican were below India in terms of the quantum of money parked in Swiss banks.
The deposits held by Swiss banks have declined in the past few years, possibly due to growing international scrutiny over their status as a safe haven for black money.
The amount held by Indians in Swiss banks has declined by about $500 million in the past three years, from about $3 billion at the end of 2008 to close to $ 2.5 billion at 2010-end.