Swiss bank UBS
The logo of Swiss bank UBS in front of the Swiss Federal Palace in Berne.

Money stashed by Indians in Switzerland's banks has reached a new record low. It halved to 676 million Swiss francs (about Rs 4,500 crore) in 2016, according to a report by the Swiss National Bank (SNB), the country's central banking authority. The total money of Indians fell by 45 percent to CHF 675.75 million during 2016, marking the biggest yearly decline so far, PTI reported.

Lowest figures
This is the lowest amount that Indians in Swiss banks have held since the European nation began making the data public in 1987, marking the third straight year of decline. The funds held by Indians had once reached a record high of CHF 6.5 billion (Rs 23,000 crore) back in 2006. In a decade, it has come down to one-tenth of that level. Data recorded since 1987 shows that the earlier lowest figure was noted in 1995 at CHF 723 million.

The latest data from the Zurich-based SNB comes when a new framework for automatic exchange of information (AEOI) is being worked out between Switzerland and India to keep tabs on the black money menace. Switzerland has agreed to join India in its fight against black money and lend all support under a pact for automatic information exchange from next year. Several rounds of talks between Indian and Swiss government officials have been held about the same and for quickening the process of accepting pending information requests about suspected illicit accounts of Indians in their banks.

Money relocated

It is suspected that Indians who had parked their money in Swiss banks in the past may have relocated the funds by now. Indians are said to have 'fewer deposits' as compared to Singapore and Honk Kong. Under the orders of the Supreme Court of India, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to look into cases concerning black money resting on foreign grounds.

Various strategies have been put in place by the government to fight the black money menace. The I-T department had found over Rs 13,000 crore black money stashed abroad after investigations and has started prosecuting these entities. Undisclosed income of over Rs 8,000 crore was obtained by India in 2011 from accounts in the Geneva branch of HSBC via the French government. A total of 628 cases were listed, of which evidence was found in 415 cases and assessments have been completed for 398 cases.

About AEOI, a global convention of automatic information exchange on tax matters, the Swiss Federal Council said that the implementation will begin in 2018 and the first set of data will be exchanged in 2019.