Swiss money trail: From gold and diamond to stocks and bitcoins

Jun 29 2014, 15:11 IST
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At a time when Switzerland has been facing intense pressure to act on the alleged use of Swiss banks for stashing black money by Indians. At a time when Switzerland has been facing intense pressure to act on the alleged use of Swiss banks for stashing black money by Indians.
SummaryAs Switzerland commits to cooperate in India's fight against black money...

to comment on his reported remarks that Switzerland has not shared any list with India, neither it was preparing one for sharing with the Indian authorities.

The other routes being tapped by some Swiss bankers and their clients for 'layering' of their funds include art works, as also virtual currencies, they added.

'Layering' is generally second stage of money laundering process and this involves moving illicit funds around the financial system through a complex series of transactions to complicate the paper trail.

This 'layering' typically takes place between the first stage -- 'placement' of black money in the financial system either in cash vaults, or through a series of cash or sham financial transactions -- and before the final 'integration' stage when money is put back into the financial system through various transactions for the benefit of its final recipient.

The latest data compiled by Switzerland's Federal Customs Administration (FCA) shows that exports to India of gold, silver and coins to India has been rising consistently since January this year (981 million Swiss francs) and reached 1.2 billion Swiss francs (about Rs 8,000 crore) in May 2014.

Moreover, India accounted for over 32 per cent of entire Swiss exports of such items during May, up from just about 14 per cent at the beginning of this year. In the process, India has overtaken China as biggest destination for Swiss gold exports. Interestingly, Switzerland's overall gold export figures have fallen in recent months, but exports to India are rising.

Under global pressure, Switzerland decided earlier this year to provide country-wise breakdown of its gold trade.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global financial crimes combating body, had also said in one of its recent reports that India is one of the five countries where instances have been found that trade accounts of diamond business are being used to launder illegal funds.

Switzerland is also in the process of easing its various regulations, including those related to sharing of information with foreign jurisdictions in cases of suspected tax evasion and other financial crimes.

When asked whether India would be a beneficiary for automatic information exchange once a revised Tax Administrative Assistance Act comes into force in August, SIF spokesperson declined to give any direct answer and said it would depend on various developments within the country.

"Switzerland is actively taking part in international efforts aimed at better combating tax fraud and evasion such as the development of a worldwide standard for

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