Black Money Current Affairs

India placed 88th in money hoarded in Swiss banks

As per analysis of the latest figures compiled by the Zurich based SNB (Swiss National Bank) as on 2016-end, India has slipped to the 88th place in terms of money parked by its citizens with Swiss banks.

The analysis shows that the money officially held by Indians with banks in Switzerland now accounts for a meagre 0.04% of the total funds kept by all foreign clients in the Swiss banking system.

The latest data from the SNB comes ahead of a new framework for automatic exchange of information singned between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace. The funds mentioned are the official figures and do not indicate the quantum of black money.

Key Facts

The total money held in Swiss banks by foreign clients from across the world, incidentally rose by a small margin to 1.42 trillion Swiss francs (CHF) during 2016 from 1.41 trillion CHF in 2015.

In terms of individual countries, United Kingdom accounted for the largest chunk at about CHF 359 (over 25%) of the total foreign money with Swiss banks. The US came second with nearly CHF 177 billion (about 14%).  Besides, UK and US, no other country accounted for a double-digit percentage share. The top-ten countries included West Indies, France, Bahamas, Germany, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong and Luxembourg.

India was ranked in top-50 continuously in terms of holdings in Swiss banks between 1996 and 2007, but it started declining after that and was placed at 55th in 2008, 59th in 2009 and 2010 each, 55th again in 2011, 71st in 2012, 58th in 2013, 61st in 2014 and  75th in 2015. It was ranked highest at 37th place in 2004.

Among the five BRICS nations, India was also the lowest ranked. Russia was ranked 19th (CHF 15.6 billion), China 25th (9.6 billion), Brazil 52nd (2.7 billion) and South Africa 61st (2.2 billion). Among them only China has moved up.

Among India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan was ranked 71st place (with about CHF 1.4 billion), Bangladesh was 89th (667.5 million), Nepal was 150th (312 million), Sri Lanka was 151st (307 million) and Bhutan was 282nd (half a million Swiss francs).

The total money belonging to the developed countries fell to CHF 824 billion, while those from developing nations actually rose marginally to CHF 208 million.  The money from developing economies in Asia-Pacific region rose to CHF 50 billion.

The funds parked in Swiss banks from offshore financial centres rose to CHF 389 billion.  The offshore financial centres that ranked higher including Cayman Islands, Panama, Marshall Islands, Cyprus, Bermuda, Seychelles, Isle of Man and Gibraltar.

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Black Money: Automatic Information Sharing with Switzerland from 2019

Switzerland has ratified automatic exchange of financial account information with India and 40 other countries. This will facilitate Switzerland to share information about suspected black money with India and other 40 nations.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, the implementation of the exchange sharing agreement has been planned for 2018 and hence the first set of data is likely to be exchanged in 2019. The Swiss Federal Council is a top governing body of Switzerland. The exact date of automatic information exchange would be notified by the Swiss Federal Council soon as there were no procedural delays for the implementation.

However, the Swiss banks have started seeking new safeguards so as to protect the details of their clients against misuse that could expose them to crimes such as kidnapping or blackmail. So, the Swiss Council had stated that they will prepare a situation report before the first exchange of data. As per thr process, it will be ascertained whether the states and territories concerned have put in place a standard, especially those concerning confidentiality and data security. It will be assessed whether the democratic processes in these states and territories are robust or not and whether corruption is high or not etc.

Background

Switzerland has long been perceived as one of the safest havens for black money stashed abroad by Indians. The participation of Switzerland which is the world’s largest home for overseas wealth in the information sharing agreement would be a major boost in ending tax avoidance.

As a step towards fighting black money stashed abroad, ‘Joint Declaration‘ for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) was signed between India and Switzerland on November 2016. Switzerland agreed for the introduction of the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of information) on tax matters under the guidance of G20, OECD and other global organisations.

AEOI, based on Common Reporting Standards, when implemented fully would put in place a system wherein bulk taxpayer information will be sent periodically from the source country of income to the country of residence of taxpayer. It would enable India to get access to information virtually from almost all the countries in the world including offshore financial centres.

Switzerland has said the AEOI will be implemented based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (AEOI). The MCAA is based on the international standard for the exchange of information developed by the OECD. India, on its part has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data received.

India joined the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information on 3rd June, 2015. According to the OECD, MCAA is a multilateral framework agreement that provides a standardised and efficient mechanism to facilitate the automatic exchange of information and avoids the need for the conclusion of several bilateral agreements.

Black money is that amount of money which is liable for taxation, but on which tax is not paid or evaded. It is usually received in cash from underground economic activity and, as such, is not taxed.

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