Bangladesh-tied money in Swiss banks swells 54pc

| Updated: June 19, 2022 18:38:33

A view of the facade of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Bern, Switzerland — Reuters/Files A view of the facade of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Bern, Switzerland — Reuters/Files

Funds parked by Bangladeshi nationals and entities in all the Swiss banks swelled by 54 per cent to around CHF (Swiss Franc) 871 million (Tk 83.18 billion) in the last calendar year, according to available data.

The amount was around CHF 563 million in 2020.

Thus the Bangladesh-linked money in the Swiss banks recorded a sharp rise after consecutive two years' decline.

The annual financial statements of 239 banks in Switzerland for the 2021 financial year, released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Zurich on Thursday, unveiled the latest figures, at a time when there have been flurries of discussions over a proposed government amnesty on siphoned-off money for its repatriation.

Although the figure is popularly perceived as money stashed from Bangladesh to Switzerland, the official statistics of SNB didn't mention anything in this connection.

At the average rate of Tk 95.50 per CHF, the figure stands at Tk 83.18 billion by 2021 account, which was Tk 56.38 billion in the previous year.

Due to significant depreciation of the Bangladeshi currency (BDT) in the past year, figures quoted in BDT last year in this newspaper may not match the current figures of the previous years.

The funds parked, officially bank deposits, by Bangladeshi or any other non-Swiss individuals and entities are described by the Swiss central bank as 'liabilities' of Switzerland's banks.

The liabilities are mainly divided into two parts. The major part is "amounts due to bank" under which money linked with Bangladesh increased to CHF 844.47 million or Tk 80.65 billion in 2021 from CHF 530.63 million or Tk 50.67 billion in 2020.

The money under other part or "amounts due in respect of customers' deposits" declined to CHF 26.35 million or Tk 2.51 billion in the last year from CHF 32.23 million or Tk 3.08 billion in the previous year or 2020.

The above-mentioned figures did not include the amount deposited through the fiduciaries or wealth managers.

The Bangladesh-linked money deposited through the fiduciaries declined sharply last year, coming down below CHF 1.0 million.

Generally, a large part of the funds held in Swiss banks is considered either stashed from different countries or 'black money'.

Bangladesh Bank, a few years back, in an explanatory note on Bangladesh-linked money in Swiss banks had said that around 10 per cent of such deposits accounted for individual clients and the rest deposited by banks for trade-related transaction purpose.

The official statistics released by the SNB also do not include the money that any Bangladesh-linked client of the Swiss banks might have deposited and kept in the name of shadow entities or shell companies.

Meanwhile, the total funds held by all foreign clients of the Swiss banks in the past year increased slightly to around CHF 1.48 trillion from CHF 1.44 trillion in 2020. The total funds included total liabilities of Swiss banks plus fiduciaries' liabilities.

In 2021, direct foreign deposits with the Swiss banks reached CHF 1.40 trillion while deposit through the wealth managers stood at CHF 76.77billion.

The SNB statistics further show that Indians' direct deposits with Swiss banks last year jumped by 50 per cent to around CHF 3828.91 million from CHF 2552.63 million in 2020.

Pakistan-linked money in Swiss banks also increased 9.80 per cent to CHF 705.06 million in 2021 from CHF 642.29 million in 2020.

These figures, however, did not include deposits through the wealth managers. This kind of deposits by Indians increased marginally to around CHF 3.0 million and by Pakistanis declined slightly to CHF 6.20 million in the last year.

Though the Swiss banking system generally ensures full confidentiality of the depositors, which turns the country into one of the largest tax havens in the world, the Swiss government has started sharing depositors' information with the some other governments.

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