Why Swiss banks are still popular among Indians despite being under government scanner ?
3rd July 2018 : Swiss banks spend little or nothing on securities. They even impose a fee for taking the money. Their famed walls of privacy have converted porous. And, one of their prized sets of customers — the Indian rich — are below the government’s hawk watch like never before.
Delivered by the Swiss National Bank prove — after dropping for three years, there’s a 50% wave in the money collected by Indians in 2017 to 1.01 billion Swiss franc (about `7,000 crores) the Alpine banks have not spent their charm as last week’s baffling numbers. Really, Swiss banks are like the Swiss cheese: many holes, but sufficient cheese to retain the holes. One can guess why. A relatively stable currency shields the money from wild swings in the foreign exchange market.
Swiss account is a ticket to the rich man’s club that has its rights — such as, way to investment events where the entry level is higher for investors outside the club. And, the culture of secrecy in Swiss banks is so deep-rooted that the rich with undisclosed, untaxe d slush stores still consider them to be a safer bet than banks in other tax havens. So, truth in Arun Jaitley words that “not all Swiss bank money is dirty”.
First, there is a reason to believe that total money parked by Indians and outfits controlled by Indians in Swiss banks is far more than`7,000 crore. The numbers revealed by the central bank of Switzerland does not include the money that resident Indians and NRIs have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries. This money is hidden in the mountain of deposits of all Swiss banks.
India and Switzerland signed the pact to share information on accounts that were active on or after January 1, 2011, in 2011-12. The treaty was no secret. Negotiations were on for years and widely reported by the media at least two years since the agreement was signed.
Opportunities are that after five years, a big slice of this money has attained its way back to the chests of old, trusted Swiss banks who promise that they are smarter than the rest. But this money is not counted in the data on Indian money with Swiss banks.
Well before the deadline of Jan 1, 2011, many moved their money from Swiss banks with the help of clever lawyers and seasoned accountants. It began with an accountholder buying into a newly established company in a jurisdiction like the UAE, Singapore, or Dubai.
It’s a kosher investment, carried out under the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), which allows a resident Indian to invest up to $250,000 in overseas stocks and properties.
Funds heading from Swiss banks to the current bank account of this company in Dubai or Singapore are scheduled as earnings and commissions from businesses like commodity trading, or consultancy.
Discovering this money trail will never be easy. Swiss banks are under no commitment to reveal details of accounts that were closed before 1st January 2011. Unless the account owner is a drug lord pursued by law implementation agencies or a stigmatized escaped like Nirav Modi, his mysteries concealed with the Swiss banks cannot be unearthed. The money that has ruled to Swiss bank links to a trading company in Dubai, which happens to be granted by an Indian — probably a joint venture with his NRI relatives and persons of Indian origin (who don’t hold Indian passports).
The quantum of such money will endure hidden. The Swiss are absurd to ever unseal the funds they control of Indian-controlled firms in other countries. For Mr. Jaitley, the larger and immediate concern is wrapped in his own words (“not all Swiss bank money is dirty”). Indeed, he should be a bothered man if there is a flight of genuine, tax-paid savings of rich Indians to Switzerland. Even, it should perhaps consider why clean money is leaving the margins. Why Switzerland remains to pleasure, even if it reeks a little like the Swiss cheese?