Indians rush to convert their Swiss stashes to bullion as rules tighten

04 August 2014

Amid the long-running brouhaha over black money allegedly stashed by Indians in Swiss banks, latest official data from the Swiss government indicates that Indians are opting out of the increasingly transparent Swiss banking system by converting their cash into bullion.

India accounts for nearly 42 per cent of total gold and silver leaving Switzerland shores the largest for any single country, according to the latest official Swiss report on the total export of gold, silver and coins in the month of June 2014.

The overall figure stood at 3.9 billion Swiss francs (over Rs26,000 crore), out of which India alone accounted for Rs 11,000 crore.

 This has taken the overall Swiss exports so far in 2014 to 32.1 billion Swiss francs. Of this, shipments to India have reached nearly Rs50,000 crore (7.3 billion Swiss francs).

The data comes at a time when India has stepped up pressure on Switzerland to share information on alleged stashing of black money by Indians in Swiss banks.

A new strategy of 'layering' through gold and diamond trade has come to light at Swiss banks, aimed at thwarting any attempt for identification of the real owners of the funds.

There is a growing suspicion that a portion of gold and diamond trade is being used to route funds from Swiss banks to India and other destinations.

Switzerland's banks have obtained new undertakings signed by their clients whereby the customer agrees to take responsibility for any possible regulatory or administrative compliance with international norms.

'Layering' is a key stage in money laundering; it involves moving illicit funds through a complex series of deals to complicate the paper trail.

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