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SNB says its data include total deposits of Indian customers

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New Delhi/Zurich: Amid a controversy over its official data showing 50 per cent surge in Indians’ money in Swiss banks last year to CHF 1.01 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore), Switzerland’s central banking authority SNB today said these figures are for total deposits of Indian customers, including from banks and enterprises.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) further said its figures include the “data from branches of Swiss banks in India” and therefore the locational banking statistics (LBS) compiled by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a global central banking body, would be more reliable.
Only only one Swiss bank — Credit Suisse — has a branch in India, while two others — UBS and Zurcher Kantonal Bank — are present in the country through one representative office each, as per the RBI data updated till January 31, 2018.
Weeks after SNB’s annual publication, ‘Banks in Switzerland’, showed a rise in Indians’ money in Swiss banks in 2017 after falling for three consecutive years, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal today said the Indian deposits in Swiss banks actually fell by 34.5 per cent last year as per the data from the BIS.
Goyal told the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour that he discussed the issue with Swiss authorities, who told him in a written reply that media reports “have not taken account of the way the (SNB) figures have to be interpreted”.
The minister said that according to Swiss authorities, more reliable data source is the locational banking statistics of the BIS, which measures international banking activity from a residence perspective, focusing on the location of banking office and captures around 95 per cent of all cross-border banking activity.
The BIS data show that non-bank loans and deposits — which constitute the individual and corporate deposits and exclude inter bank transactions — have fallen by 34.5 per cent in 2017 to USD 524 million compared to USD 800 million in 2016, Goyal said and vowed to continue the crackdown on black money.
Replying to e-mailed queries in this regard, the SNB said the figures that showed an increase of 50 per cent in Indians’ money in Swiss banks “are for total deposits of Indian customers at Swiss banks (ie. Total liabilities of Swiss banks towards India), including deposits from banks and enterprises”.
On whether the BIS data was more reliable, the SNB said, “That is correct. The data of Swiss National Bank include also data from branches of Swiss Banks in India”.
As per the BIS website, the ‘amount outstanding’ towards non-bank loans and deposits of Indians in Swtizerland-based banks stood at USD 94.84 million (Rs 653 crore) at the end of 2017, down nearly 44 per cent from USD 168.13 million (Rs 1,158 crore) at 2016-end.
Further, the latest BIS data shows this figure to have risen again to USD 100.88 million (Rs 695 crore) at the end of March 2018.
In its emailed reply to PTI queries, the SNB also shared details from its annual statistics about the total liabilities of ‘Banks in Switzerland’ towards clients in India at CHF 999.094 million at the end of 2017, including CHF 151.894 million as amount due to other banks, CHF 464.164 million in form of customer deposits; and CHF 383.036 million as ‘other liabilities’.
Separately, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) issued a statement on the issue saying the SNB’s annual banking statistics are based on surveys of banks and provide for a comprehensive picture of the Swiss banking sector.
“The figures published by the SNB are regularly mentioned in the public domain as a reliable indicator of the amount of assets held with Swiss financial institutions in respect of Indian residents,” it said.


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Business

RBI asks banks to grout ATMs to wall, floor for security by September-end

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Mumbai: The Reserve Bank asked banks to ensure their ATMs are grouted to a wall, pillar, or floor by September-end, except those installed in high secured premises such as airports, to enhance security of the cash vending machines.

In 2016, the RBI had st up a Committee on Currency Movement (CCM) to review the entire gamut of security of treasure in transit.

Based on the recommendations of the panel, the central bank has now issued instructions aimed at mitigating risks in ATM operations and enhancing security.

 

As part of the security measures, all “ATMs shall be operated for cash replenishment only with digital One Time Combination (OTC) locks”.

Also, “All ATMs shall be grouted to a structure (wall, pillar, floor, etc.) by September 30, 2019, except for ATMs installed in highly secured premises such as airports, etc. which have adequate CCTV coverage and are guarded by state/central security personnel”.

Further, banks may also consider rolling out a comprehensive e-surveillance mechanism at the ATMs to ensure timely alerts and quick response, it said.

The new measures to be adopted by banks are in addition to the existing instructions, practices and guidance issued by the RBI and law enforcement agencies.

The RBI also warned the banks that non-adherence of timelines or non-observance of the instructions would attract regulatory action including levy of penalty.

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SBI refuses to disclose communication from RBI, govt on electoral bonds

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New Delhi: The State Bank of India has refused to disclose any communication it received from the government or the Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds, terming it “personal information” and held in “fiduciary capacity”.

Responding to an RTI filed by Pune-based activist Vihar Durve who had demanded copies of all letters, correspondence, directions, notifications or e-mails received from the RBI or any government department between 2017 and 2019, the SBI said it cannot be provided by it.

The bank cited two exemption clauses under the RTI Act to deny information — Section 8(1)(e) which pertains to information held in fiduciary capacity and Section 8(1)(J) which pertains to personal information of a person which has no link to any public activity.

 

“Information sought by the applicant cannot be disclosed as it is in fiduciary capacity, disclosure of which is exempted under Section 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the Central Public Information Officer of the bank said in his reply.

The bank also refused to give any details of action taken by it on such communications from the RBI and the government.

The electoral bonds, for giving donations to political parties, are being sold through SBI only. The sale opens in SBI branches when the Finance Ministry issues a notification of their sale for a given period.

The scheme of electoral bonds notified by the Centre in 2018 has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the bonds.

The bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India “or incorporated or established in India,” the government had said in a statement last year.

The bonds remain valid for 15 days and can be encashed by an eligible political party only through an account with the authorised bank within that period only.

A voluntary group working in the field of electoral reforms, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), has demanded a stay on the sale while the CPI(M) has challenged it before the Supreme Court in separate petitions.

ADR recently filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 which was notified by the Centre in January last year.

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Walmart’s Flipkart, Indian startup GOQii settle dispute over sharp discounting

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New Delhi: Walmart unit Flipkart has settled a legal dispute with an Indian startup that alleged it suffered losses because its products were sharply discounted on the global retailer’s website.

GOQii, a seller of smartwatch-type health devices, sued Flipkart last month in a Mumbai court, alleging its devices were discounted by around 70 per cent to the retail price, much more than the two sides had agreed. The court had, as an interim measure, ordered device sales to be halted on Flipkart.

In a joint statement , the companies said the dispute had been resolved and GOQii health devices would again be available on Flipkart. They didn’t say how the settlement was reached.

 

Vishal Gondal, CEO of GOQii, told Reuters the company would withdraw the case against Flipkart. The e-commerce retailer’s “team worked on a resolution benefitting the brand and the customers”, Gondal said in the statement.

The legal spat was seen as a test case of the giant retailer’s operating strategy in the country.

Small traders and a right-wing group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party have raised concerns about large e-commerce companies, saying they burn billions of dollars deeply discounting some products to lure customers onto their sites, in the expectation that they will also buy other goods.

GOQii said it signed an agreement last year with a Flipkart unit to sell two of its devices at a price not below 1,999 rupees (USD 28.63) and 1,499 rupees. It later found the devices were being sold for 999 rupees and 699 rupees, calling it “unauthorized” discounting.

In response, Flipkart said it reserved “the right to institute actions for defamation, both civil and criminal”, arguing it wasn’t responsible for any discounts which are determined by third-party firms which sell via its website.

The two companies struck a friendlier tone in their joint-statement on Friday as they brought the legal battle to an end.

“We have ensured constant engagement with GOQii to resolve any differences,” Flipkart said in the statement.

With a 19 per cent market share, GOQii was the second-biggest player in India’s so-called wearables market last year, data from industry tracker IDC showed. The market is dominated by China’s Xiaomi, with Samsung a small player.

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