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‘Foreign client complaints rise at Swiss banks’

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 21:31

New Delhi: Swiss banks recorded an increase in the number of complaints from their foreign customers in 2011, although the number of their total customer complaints declined, Switzerland's banking ombudsman said Tuesday.

In a report released today, Zurich-based Swiss Banking Ombudsman, an independent mediator dealing with specific complaints raised against Switzerland-based banks, said that it received a total of 1,889 complaints during 2011, down by 5 percent from 1,984 in the previous year 2010.

However, the number of complaints in 2011 remained well above the long-term average of 1400-1500, the Ombudsman said.

Also, the share of complaints from foreign customers continued to rise and reached 38 percent last year, which was very close to the all-time high level of 39 percent seen in the year 2007.

Among others, the Ombudsman also handles claims from the customers about the dormant accounts in Swiss banks and it received a total of 735 such claims last year.

During 2011, a total of 5.4 million Swiss francs, as also contents of six safe deposit boxes, were returned to the customers following receipt of claims on dormant accounts.

The Ombudsman said a total of 268 dormant accounts and 30 bank safes have been identified since 2001 so far and total assets of 37.1 million Swiss francs have been returned to the respective beneficiaries.

While the total number of demands in the area of search for dormant accounts slightly declined in 2011, the quantum of such successful claims was higher than 2010.

While about 29 percent of such claims came from Germany, France and South America accounted for 15.8 percent and 10.5 percent claims respectively.

No figure could be ascertained for claims from India.

While Indians are alleged to have stashed billions of dollars worth black money in Swiss banks, the official data of Switzerland's central bank, Swiss National Bank (SNB) puts the funds of Indian clients in Switzerland's banks at a modest 2.18 billion Swiss francs (Rs 12,700 crore) -- which is just 0.14 percent of total foreign wealth there.

Indians' money in Swiss banks rose for the first time in five years in 2011.

These official figures, described by SNB as 'liabilities' of Swiss banks towards their clients from various countries, do not indicate towards the quantum of the much-debated alleged black money held by Indians or other nationals in the safe havens of Switzerland.

Also, SNB's figures do not include the money that Indians or other nationals might have in Swiss banks in others' names.


First Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 21:31
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