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MONDAY, JULY 2, 2012

India unveiled

Rich hoard gold, art in Swiss banks NEW DELHI: Amid a global crackdown against alleged black money in secret accounts of Swiss banks, their bankers are selling a new safe-haven idea to their rich clients from India and other countries — the highvalue 1,000 franc notes to be stored in safe deposit boxes. These boxes — kept inside the premises of Swiss banks — are also said to be being used to stash gold, diamond, paintings and art works among other valuables — apparently because of limited risk of catching the preying eyes of foreign governments having signed banking information exchange treaties with Switzerland. According to industry sources, bankers are telling their rich clients that Switzerland’s tax and information exchange treaties with India and other countries are mostly limited to funds in customers’ savings, deposit and investment accounts, and do not apply to the safe deposit boxes. As a result, the demand has soared to record high levels for the safe deposit boxes and the 1,000 Swiss franc banknotes in

Switzerland, as rich of the world are rushing to get them. As per the data available with Switzerland’s central bank SNB (Swiss National Bank), the thousand-franc notes now account for 60 per cent of total value of all Swiss banknotes in circulation, up from about 50 per cent a year ago. Replying to PTI queries, SNB confirmed that there was a significant surge in demand for

thousand-franc notes and admitted that this could be due to a trend to store the money and a higher demand was being noticed from abroad for these high-value currency notes. SNB did not reply to specific queries about demand from India and said that it did not have any data on deposit boxes. Just one thousand-franc banknote is worth about `60,000 in Indian currency, making it easier

Man spared jail due to mentally retarded child

NEW DELHI: The mentally retarded daughter of a man convicted for rash driving in a 19-year-old case has led a court into adopting a lenient view and letting him off with a meagre fine. Central Delhi resident Ish Sharma, convicted for rash driving and causing grevious hurt to a person, was let off with a fine of `10,000 after he submitted before the court that he has a 14-

year-old mentally retarded daughter to take care of. Metropolitan Magistrate Hem Raj perused the medical record and certificates of the mentally retarded girl, said, “The counsel for the convict had filed on record photocopies of the medical certificate of her daughter showing that the innocent girl is suffering from the disease of mental retardation which cannot be cured medically. “The medical treatment of the girl would be seriously affected and the education of his (convict’s) son would also be jeopardised if the convict is sent behind bars. In my opinion, by imposing an appropriate sentence of fine would suffice the purpose and the convict would be more careful in the future”. The court imposed a fine of `1,000 on him for rash driving and another `9,000 for causing grievous hurt. Sharma told the court that he is the sole bread earner of the family which consists of his wife and school-going children. He also said that he has a 14-yearold daughter who is mentally retarded and if he is sent to jail, she would be deprived of the love and affection of his father as well as her medical treatment would be seriously affected. The court perused the medical records and certificates of his mentally retarded daughter. PTI

to store large amount of money in form of these notes. The total value of thousand-franc notes currently in circulation is two trillion rupees (32.5 billion Swiss francs). Also, Switzerland is among the few major countries to have denomination of as high as 1,000, while the highest value banknotes in the UK and the US are only 50 pounds (about `4,300) and 100 dollars (`5,500), respectively. The US used to have highvalue notes like $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 earlier, but these currency bills were printed for the last time in 1945 and were not even in circulation since 1969. Besides, the secrecy measures attached with safe deposit boxes are leading to many banks running short of these boxes and are now offering them only to very rich clients. While there are no official figures for these boxes, the commission and fees earned by banks for such facilities appear to be rising. During 2011, Swiss banks registered a decline in their overall commission earn-

T

hese boxes are also said to be being used to stash gold, diamond, paintings and art works among other valuables — apparently because of limited risk of catching the preying eyes of foreign governments having signed banking information exchange treaties with Switzerland. ings, as also in their commission income from core banking operations, the SNB data shows. However, their ‘other commissions’, which includes royalty and rental fees for safe deposit boxes, rose sharply. Switzerland government’s tax department did not reply to PTI queries about the soaring demand for safe deposit boxes and thousand-franc notes, as also about the possible use of safe deposit boxes to store illicit wealth. They also did not respond to queries about the possible use of these safe deposit boxes to circumvent the tax treaties and information exchange agreements between Switzerland and other countries, including India. PTI

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