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Money of Indians in Swiss banks rises 50 per cent to over Rs 7,000 crore

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By Agencies
New Delhi: Money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose over 50 per cent to 1.01 billion Swiss francs (Rs 7,000 crore) in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend amid India’s clampdown on suspected black money.
In comparison, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks rose about 3 per cent to 1.46 trillion Swiss francs or about Rs 100 lakh crore in 2017, according to the official annual data released by Swiss National Bank (SNB), the central banking authority of Switzerland.
The surge in Indian money held with Swiss banks comes as a surprise given India’s continuing clampdown on suspected black money stashed abroad, including in banks of Switzerland that used to be known for their famed secrecy walls for years.
The Indian money in Swiss banks had fallen by 45 per cent in 2016, marking their biggest ever yearly plunge, to 676 million Swiss francs (about Rs 4,500 crore) — the lowest ever since the Switzerland began making the data public in 1987.
According to the SNB data, the total funds held by Indians directly with Swiss banks rose to 999 million Swiss francs (Rs 6,891 crore) in 2017, while the same held through fiduciaries or wealth managers increased to 16.2 million Swiss francs (Rs 112 crore). These figures stood at 664.8 million Swiss francs and 11 million Swiss francs at the end of 2016.
As per the latest data, the Indian money in Swiss banks included CHF 464 million (Rs 3,200 crore) in the form of customer deposits, 152 million Swiss francs (Rs 1,050 crore) through other banks and 383 million Swiss francs (Rs 2,640 crore) as ‘other liabilities’ such as securities at the end of 2017.
The funds under all three heads have risen sharply, as against a huge plunge across all categories in the previous year, the SNB data showed.
The funds held through fiduciaries alone used to be in billions till 2007 but began falling after that amid fears of regulatory crackdown.
The total funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at a record high of 6.5 billion Swiss francs (Rs 23,000 crore) at 2006-end, but came down to nearly one-tenth of that level in about a decade.
Since those record levels, this is only the third time when there has been a rise in Indians’ money in Swiss banks — in 2011 (12 per cent), 2013 (43 per cent) and now in 2017 by 50.2 per cent — the maximum increase since 56 per cent way back in 2004.
The latest data from Zurich-based SNB comes months after a new framework having been put in place for automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace.
While Switzerland has already begun sharing foreign client details on evidence of wrongdoing provided by India and some other countries, it has agreed to further expand its cooperation on India’s fight against black money with a new pact for automatic information exchange.
There were several rounds of discussions between Indian and Swiss government officials on the new framework and also for expediting the pending information requests about suspected illicit accounts of Indians in Swiss banks.
The funds, described by SNB as ‘liabilities’ of Swiss banks or ‘amounts due to’ their clients, are the official figures disclosed by the Swiss authorities and do not indicate to the quantum of the much-debated alleged black money held by Indians there.
SNB’s official figures also do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of entities from different countries.
Amid a decline seen in Indian money over the previous three years, there was a view that Indians who had allegedly parked their illicit money in Swiss banks in the past may have shifted the funds to other locations after a global crackdown began on the mighty banking secrecy practices in Switzerland.
Swiss banks have earlier said Indians have “few deposits” in Swiss banks compared to other global financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong amid stepped-up efforts to check the black money menace.
On directions of the Supreme Court, India had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe cases of alleged black money of Indians, including funds stashed abroad in places like Switzerland.
A number of strategies were deployed by the government to combat the stash-funds menace, in both overseas and domestic domain, which included enactment of a new law, amendments in the Anti-Money Laundering Act and compliance windows for people to declare their hidden assets.
The Tax department had detected suspected black money running into thousands of crores of rupees post investigations on global leaks about Indians stashing funds abroad and has launched prosecution against hundreds of them, including those with accounts in the Geneva branch of HSBC.
The issue of black money has always been a matter of big debate in India and Switzerland has been long perceived as one of the safest havens for such funds.


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After demonetisation, 50 lakh lost jobs over 2 years: report

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Mumbai: As per a report released by the Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, almost 50 lakh people lost their employment between 2018 and 2019 after November 8, 2016, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would not be considered as legal tender.

As per the report, the beginning of the decline in employment rate coincides with the government’s note ban in 2016 but no “causal link” can be built up based on the information, says the report titled ‘State of Working India 2019’.

The employment losses are higher when women are taken under consideration. The women workforce participation has also lowered, the report said.

 

According to the report, “Whether or not this decline was caused by demonetisation, it is definitely a cause for concern and calls for urgent policy intervention,”

A government report which was leaked in January this year also recorded that the unemployment rate in India rose to a 45-year high in 2017-2018.

The overall unemployment rate was pegged at around 6 per cent in 2017-2018, according to the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) Periodic Labour Force Survey, held between 2017 and 2018.

But NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said the report was “not verified” and the “veracity of the data was not known”.

The report said unemployment has largely been driven by higher-educated men in both urban and rural areas, those in the age group of 20 to 24.

“Clearly, there is a large differential impact by level of education. This is consistent with the idea that the informal sector, where we can expect the share of less educated men to be higher, was hit hardest by demonetisation as well as the introduction of GST,” the report noted.

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Mallya laments ‘airline karma’ in message for cash-strapped Jet Airways

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London: Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya on Wednesday took to social media once again, this time to express his solidarity with Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and repeat his own offer to repay all the money he owes to India’s public sector banks.

The 63-year-old, fighting his extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to an alleged Rs 9,000 crores, claims private airlines were discriminated against by the Indian government, which bailed out state-owned Air India but did not assist his own Kingfisher Airlines and now Jet Airways.

“Even though Jet was a major competitor to Kingfisher at the time I feel sorry to see such a large private airline on the brink of failure when government used 35K crores (Rs 35,000 crores) of public funds to bail out Air India. Just being a PSU is no excuse for discrimination,” Mallya wrote on Twitter. He added: “I invested hugely into Kingfisher which rapidly grew to become India’s largest and most awarded airline. True, Kingfisher borrowed from PSU Banks as well. I have offered to pay back 100 per cent but am being criminally charged instead. Airline Karma?”

 

The former Kingfisher Airlines boss took yet another swipe at the media as well, claiming every offer he makes to pay back funds owed by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines to PSU banks resulted in reports that claim he is “spooked, terrified etc” of being extradited from the UK back to India. “I am willing to pay either way whether I am in London or in an Indian Jail. Why don’t Banks take the money I offered first,” he questioned.

On a more personal note directed at Jet Airways founder Goyal and his wife Neeta, the UB Group chief expressed his sympathy for the troubles being faced by the cash-strapped private airline, which has been forced to cancel a string of flights amid a mounting crisis. “Even though we were fierce competitors, my sympathies go out to Naresh and Neeta Goyal who built Jet Airways that India should be extremely proud of. Fine Airline providing vital connectivity and class service. Sad that so many Airlines have bitten the dust in India. Why,” Mallya questioned.

Mallya remains on bail as he awaits an oral hearing to be listed by the UK High Court for his appeal against his extradition ordered by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London last December and then signed off by UK home secretary Sajid Javid in February. A first level of that written appeal has already been rejected by the High Court, where it will now be considered during a brief hearing to determine any grounds to grant permission for Mallya’s appeal to proceed to appeal substantive hearing.

The businessman faces a series of unrelated legal battles in the UK courts, including a USD 40-million claim brought by drinks giant Diageo and an attempt by Swiss bank UBS to repossess his posh London home overlooking Regent’s Park. Meanwhile, a State Bank of India (SBI) led consortium of 13 Indian banks continue their attempt to enforce a worldwide freezing order upheld by the UK High Court in May last year through a number of follow up court orders to try and recoup some of the GBP 1.145 billion owed to them.

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BMW to recall 360,000 China cars over Takata airbags

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Shanghai: Germany’s BMW will recall 360,000 vehicles in China as part of the worldwide effort to root out defective airbags made by now-defunct Japanese supplier Takata, regulators in Beijing said.

Around 20 people have died in accidents linked to defects in Takata airbags since 2013, prompting a massive worldwide recall of at least 100 million cars from a wide range of manufacturers.

The recall will affect nearly 273,000 models built by BMW’s joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Brilliance Automotive and more than 87,000 imported BMW cars, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said.

 

The agency said in statement posted on its website late on Tuesday that a defect could cause the airbags to eject debris at passengers if deployed. It did not mention any specific incidents caused by the BMW-installed airbags.

The China recall affects more than two dozen different BMW models built between 2000 and 2018, including several each in the i, X and M series, along with other models.

The suspect parts will be replaced for free, the notice said. Founded in 1933, Takata went out of business in 2017 because of the airbag crisis.

The BMW announcement came as global carmakers were gathered for the Shanghai Auto Show amid a rare sales slump in the world’s largest vehicle market.

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