Indian money stashed in Swiss banks fell by 80% between 2014 and 2017, claims Piyush Goyal

Mumbai: Finance minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday claimed that the amount deposited by Indians in Swiss banks reduced by 80 percent between 2014 and 2017, according to a media report.

Goyal, who was replying to a question on so-called black money deposited by Indians in Swiss bank accounts, said the government has sought 4,000 pieces of information from Swiss banks and that depending upon the data they receive, the Centre will take action, India Today reported.

Goyal said that news reports quoting an increase of 50 percent in Swiss banks' total liabilities towards India in fiscal 2016-2017 are misinterpreted. "It includes non-deposit liabilities, the business of Swiss branches in India, interbank transactions, fiduciary liability," Goyal was quoted as saying by ANI.

In the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Shekhar Roy demanded to know as to how much black money had been recovered under various agreements with Switzerland, and also asked as to when Rs 15 lakh would be deposited in the bank account of every Indian. To this, Goyal said the MP seemed to have information that even the government did not.

On Monday, the finance ministry refused to share a copy of three reports on the quantum of black money held by Indians inside the country and abroad, saying its disclosure would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament.

The then UPA government had in 2011 commissioned these studies by Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) as well as the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) in Faridabad.

Replying to an RTI query, it said the study reports of the NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM were received by the government on 30 December 2013, 18 July 2014, and 21 August 2014, respectively.

 Indian money stashed in Swiss banks fell by 80% between 2014 and 2017, claims Piyush Goyal

File image of Piyush Goyal. PIB.

The ministry said these reports were submitted to the Standing Committee on Finance on 21 July last year and the committee is now seized of the matter.

"Accordingly, the disclosure of the information would cause a breach of privilege of the Parliament. Therefore, the information sought is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act," it said in reply to the RTI application filed by a PTI correspondent.

The section bars information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament.

There is, at present, no official assessment on the quantum of black money in India and abroad. According to a study by US-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI), an estimated $770 billion in black money entered India during 2005-2014.

In June it was reported that money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose over 50 percent to CHF 1.01 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend amid India's clampdown on suspected black money stashed there.

By comparison, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks rose about three percent to CHF 1.46 trillion or about Rs 100 lakh crore in 2017, according to the official annual data released on 29 June by the Swiss National Bank (SNB), the central banking authority of the Alpine nation.

--With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: Jul 24, 2018 18:42:43 IST