India has moved up to 58th rank in terms of foreign money lying with Swiss banks, but it accounts for a meagre 0.15 per cent of an estimated USD 1.6 trillion total global wealth held in Switzerland’s banking system.
The UK has retained its top position with highest share of close to 20 per cent of global wealth in Swiss banking system, followed by the US, West Indies, Germany and Guernsey in the top-five in terms of exposure to banks in Switzerland.
Amid much hue and cry over huge amounts of illicit wealth stashed by Indians in Swiss banks, the latest official data released by Switzerland’s central banking authority SNB shows that Indian money in Swiss banks rose by 43 per cent during 2013 to close to Rs. 14,000 crore (2.03 billion Swiss francs), pushing its global ranking up from 70th at the end of 2012.
The rankings are based on the direct client exposure as also the funds held through ‘fiduciaries’ or wealth managers with a total of 283 banks in Switzerland.
India now ranks higher than Pakistan, whose position has slipped from 69th earlier to 74th now, as its total exposure to Swiss banks declined from 1.44 billion Swiss francs at the end of 2012 to 1.23 billion Swiss francs in 2013.
However, China continues to rank higher than India, although it has slipped by four places to 30th. Among other major emerging economies, Brazil, Russia and South Africa are also ranked higher than India, whose 58th position continues to remain the lowest among major economies across the world.
The countries ranked below India include Philippines, Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Palestine, Barbados, Macau SAR, Iraq, Brunei and Zimbabwe.
Among top-ranked, UK has the highest exposure of 277 billion Swiss francs, followed by the US (193 billion Swiss francs), West Indies (100 billion Swiss francs), Germany (52.4 billion Swiss francs) and Guernsey (49.6 billion Swiss francs).
In top-20, they are followed by Luxembourg, Jersey, Bahamas, France, Panama, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, Japan, Russia, UAE, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
However, only a few countries account for the bulk of global money in Swiss banks and there are only 18 countries whose exposure stands at one percent or more. Even among these, only the UK and the US have exposure of more than 10 per cent, at about 20 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
The UK, the US and West Indies have retained their top-3 positions. Germany and Luxembourg have moved up two and three ranks respectively, while Jersey and France have come down.
Other countries ranked above India include Spain, Belgium, Israel, Bermuda, Cyprus, Argentina, Canada, Greece, Mexico, Indonesia, Gibraltar, Seychelles, Egypt, Thailand, Isle of Man, Nigeria, South Korea, New Zealand and Ukraine.
Those ranked below India and having relatively much smaller exposure of less than 100 million Swiss francs include Madagascar, Congo, Nepal, Macedonia, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Vatican, Mongolia, Mozambique, Burundi, Papua New Guinea, Malawi, Maldives, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Bhutan, Solomon Islands and Timor.
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.