25th February 2011
The myth of $1.5 trillion Indian money in Swiss banks
Latest, Hindu 18 June 2012: "2.18 billion Swiss francs (Rs. 12,700 crore) belonging to Indian individuals and entities."
Hot off the press
As per the official figures disclosed by Switzerland's central bank, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), total deposits of Indian individuals and companies with all the Swiss banks put together stood at about USD 2.5 billion at the end of 2010.
In comparison, total foreign assets worth around 2.85 trillion Swiss francs (USD 3.5 trillion) were parked in Swiss banks at the end of the year 2010, said a spokesperson for the Swiss Bankers' Association, the apex body of Switzerland-based banks. [Source]
Swaminomics confirms my thesis.
I busted this myth a very long time ago, the very first time I saw an email on this subject. That was in May 2008. However, it appears it took much longer for journalists in India to bust this myth. The common man (who NEVER checks facts) has still not been demystified.
I now find that even the Economic Times got suckered into publishing false information as late as in October 2008. This only confirms to me the well known fact of the DEPLORABLE QUALITY of journalism often found in India. In this case the research abilities of Mandar Nimkar who wrote that article, and his boss who approved it, were clearly very dubious. At the minimum they ought to have followed Mark Twain's dictum and stated that the unconfirmed "facts" were "alleged", not present them as true. These two ought to have been sacked long ago.
It appears that it took the Indian media ONE year more, in September 2009 (Times of India) to sort out the facts and bust this myth. However, this myth has not yet died away. [Addendum: S. Gurumurthy repeats the same figures]
I was reminded, through a note by Harsh Vora on Facebook – who went to the bottom of this issue – that this myth (basically a falsification) still continues to go around in circles (just like the falsification about Thomas Macaulay – which damaged the reputation of an otherwise outstanding man).
Rare – VERY rare – is that educated Indian who bothers to ask questions and find out the truth. Well done, Harsh (and Viskit)!
Let me re-assert that it is CERTAIN that a huge amount of money is stashed by Indians in Swiss banks. I'm not denying that. Just that this figure of $1.5 trillion has been pulled out from the hat by a clever falsifier. A lot of crooks operate on the internet, fooling gullible "EDUCATED" (??!!) Indians all the time.
EXTRACT FROM MY EMAIL TO FTI MEMBERS ON 9 MAY 2008
Dear Mr XX [an FTI member]
After some initial research my view is that this information about $1.5
trillion in Indian currency in Swiss banks is false. I went to
and then to the Swiss bank association website.
No authentic or credible source of information exists readily to
authenticate the information circulating on the internet. I will need to
either see the original report/s or at least a citation in a credible
journal or newspaper before using this information. The nearest article
with some authenticity is http://www.rediff.com/money/
which doesn't mention the $1.5 trillion figure, though.
No doubt, huge amounts of India money is hoarded in Swiss banks. But
this information is probably false. The email also shows that false
information has been spreading like virus on the internet. Such
information can bias us because it comes from our friends (reliable
sources). I think we should treat all such emails with caution and
triple-check them before using them or passing them around.
I'm sending this piece of research to FTI so that members can advise me
if they have more authentic information on this issue. Else, they too
should also treat this information as false.
[EXTRACTED FROM EMAIL FORWARDED BY MR XX]
>> Subject: IS INDIA POOR?
>> Is India poor, who says? Ask Swiss banks
>> With personal account deposit bank of $1500 billion in
>> foreign reserve which have been misappropriated, an amount
>> 13 times larger than the country's foreign debt, one
>> needs to rethink if India is a poor country?.
>> DISHONEST INDUSTRIALISTS, scandalous politicians and
>> corrupt IAS, IRS, IPS officers have deposited in foreign
>> banks in their illegal personal accounts a sum of about $
>> 1500 billion, which have been misappropriated by them. This
>> amount is about 13 times larger than the country's
>> foreign debt. With this amount 45 crore poor people can get
>> Rs 1,00,000 each. This huge amount has been appropriated
>> from the people of India by exploiting and betraying them.
>> Once this huge amount of black money and property comes
>> back to India , the entire foreign debt can be repaid in 24
>> hours. After paying the entire foreign debt, we will have
>> surplus amount, almost 12 times larger than the foreign
>> debt. If this surplus amount is invested in earning
>> interest, the amount of interest will be more than the
>> annual budget of the Central government. So even if all the
>> taxes are abolished, then also the Central government will
>> be able to maintain the country very comfortably.
>> Some 80,000 people travel to Switzerland every year, of
>> whom 25,000 travel very frequently. 'Obviously, these
>> people won't be tourists. They must be travelling there
>> for some other reason,' believes an official involved in
>> tracking illegal money. And, clearly, he isn't referring
>> to the commerce ministry bureaucrats who've been
>> flitting in and out of Geneva ever since the World Trade
>> Organisation (WTO) negotiations went into a tailspin!
>> Just read the following details and note how these
>> dishonest industrialists, scandalous politicians, corrupt
>> officers, cricketers, film actors, illegal sex trade and
>> protected wildlife operators, to name just a few, sucked
>> this country's wealth and prosperity. This may be the
>> picture of deposits in Swiss banks only. What about other
>> international banks?
>> Black money in Swiss banks — Swiss Banking Association
>> report, 2006 details bank deposits in the territory of
>> Switzerland by nationals of following countries:
>> Top five
>> India—- $1,456 billion
>> Russia —$ 470 billion
>> UK ——-$390 billion
>> Ukraine – $100 billion
>> China —–$ 96 billion
>> Now do the maths – India with $1456 billion or $1.4
>> trillion has more money in Swiss banks than rest of the
>> world combined. Public loot since 1947: Can we bring back
>> our money? It is one of the biggest loots witnessed by
>> mankind — the loot of the Aam Aadmi (common man) since
>> 1947, by his brethren occupying public office. It has been
>> orchestrated by politicians, bureaucrats and some
>> businessmen. The list is almost all-encompassing. No wonder,
>> everyone in India loots with impunity and without any fear.
>> What is even more depressing in that this ill-gotten wealth
>> of ours has been stashed away abroad into secret bank
>> accounts located in some of the world's best known tax
>> havens. And to that extent the Indian economy has been
>> stripped of its wealth. Ordinary Indians may not be exactly
>> aware of how such secret accounts operate and what are the
>> rules and regulations that go on to govern such tax havens.
>> However, one may well be aware of 'Swiss bank
>> accounts,' the shorthand for murky dealings, secrecy and
>> of course pilferage from developing countries into rich
>> developed ones.
>> In fact, some finance experts and economists believe tax
>> havens to be a conspiracy of the western world against the
>> poor countries. By allowing the proliferation of tax havens
>> in the twentieth century, the western world explicitly
>> encourages the movement of scarce capital from the
>> developing countries to the rich.
>> In March 2005, the Tax Justice Network (TJN) published a
>> research finding demonstrating that $11.5 trillion of
>> personal wealth was held offshore by rich individuals across
>> the globe. The findings estimated that a large proportion of
>> this wealth was managed from some 70 tax havens.
>> Further, augmenting these studies of TJN, Raymond Baker —
>> in his widely celebrated book titled 'Capitalism' s
>> Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free Market
>> System' — estimates that at least $5 trillion have been
>> shifted out of poorer countries to the West since the
>> It is further estimated by experts that one per cent of the
>> world's population holds more than 57 per cent of total
>> global wealth, routing it invariably through these tax
>> havens. How much of this is from India is anybody's
>> What is to be noted here is that most of the wealth of
>> Indians parked in these tax havens is illegitimate money
>> acquired through corrupt means. Naturally, the secrecy
>> associated with the bank accounts in such places is central
>> to the issue, not their low tax rates as the term 'tax
>> havens' suggests. Remember Bofors and how India could
>> not trace the ultimate beneficiary of those transactions
>> because of the secrecy associated with these bank accounts?
>> IS THERE ANY ONE WHO WOULD SAVE INDIA ?God… No No No, even
>> he can't……. ….!!