The Ministry of Finance on Saturday said that it has sought information from authorities in Switzerland after a report said that funds deposited by Indian individuals and firms in banks there rose to 2.55 billion Swiss francs (over Rs 20,700 crore) in 2020 – the highest in 13 years.

Citing annual data from Switzerland’s central bank, PTI reported that the rise in bank deposits was more than 183% from the 899 million Swiss francs (Rs 6,625 crore) at the end of 2019. These figures, the finance ministry said, “do not indicate the quantum of much debated alleged black money” parked by Indians in Switzerland.

The data released in the annual report of the Swiss National Bank is a collection of official figures reported to the central bank by various individual banks in the country. It does not include the money that Indians might have in Swiss banks in names of third-country entities. Bringing back black money held by Indians abroad was a key electoral promise of the Narendra Modi government during 2014 General Elections.

The ministry also claimed that customer deposits in Swiss banks have fallen from the end of 2019, without giving figures. “The funds held through fiduciaries has also more than halved from end of 2019,” the statement said. “The biggest increase is in ‘other amounts due from customers’. These are in form of bonds, securities and various other financial instruments.”

Customer account deposits witnessed a dip while money deposited through bonds, securities and other financial instruments rose sharply, as per the Swiss National Bank data.

The increase in deposits, the ministry argued, could also be due to the business of Swiss bank branches located in India, increasing inter-bank transactions between Swiss and Indian banks or a capital increase for a subsidiary of a Swiss company in India.

“The Swiss authorities have been requested to provide the relevant facts along with their view on possible reasons for increase/decrease....,” the finance ministry said.

In October 2019, Swiss tax authorities had shared with India the first tranche of details about the financial accounts of Indian clients in Swiss banks under the automatic information exchange framework between the two countries. However, the finance ministry had refused to share details of the data, saying such disclosures are prohibited under “confidentiality provisions” of a tax treaty between India and Switzerland.