uch was made of a ‘promise’ that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made during the Lok Sabha election campaign in 2014. He had said that if he and his party were elected to power, he would ensure that every Indian would have Rs 15 lakh deposited in her or his account derived from all the black money that the government would get repatriated from the Swiss Banks holding unaccounted money of Indians. Not half a dime has come that way, as we all know well by now. We have placed that claim safely away in the hyperbole account locker. However, recent reports suggest that about Rs 300 crore, a small amount indeed, lying in about 10 dormant Swiss Bank accounts linked to Indians will soon go to the Swiss government if the sum is not claimed either by the account holders themselves or by their legal heirs. According to the banking laws of Switzerland, a bank account is declared dormant once there is no contact between the customer and the Bank for 60 years. The details of such accounts, which should have at least 500 Swiss francs or assets of unknown value held in them, are first made public for inviting claims.
Interestingly, after the details of the dormant accounts were published in 2015, several moneybags from around the world, including some Pakistani nationals, are said to have staked claim to the money. Claimants to these dormant accounts include two persons from Kolkata, one from Dehradun, two from Mumbai and also some Non-Resident Indians settled in France and the United Kingdom. While for two accounts the wait time before the Bank sends the money to Swiss coffers ends by November 15, for three others it ends in December and for the rest in December 2020.
The Bank had released details of the said account holders, among others, so that claimants may submit necessary proof and get the funds or whatever is deposited with the Bank. The Bank had declared the names of 2,600 such latent accounts by the end of 2015 and that about 45 million Swiss francs (more than Rs 300 crore) were lying unclaimed in the said accounts since 1955. It was also noticed that in the last six years, the number of dormant accounts rose significantly to about 3,500. The cumulative sum locked in these accounts is not clear. It may safely be presumed that the total sum would be immense and yet those who hold the accounts are paranoid to stake claim under prevailing conditions of India.
Rs 300 crore is not huge but it is also not loose change when it comes to the kind of benefits that the money can provide. It does appear to be loose change only when state governments are seen allocating such sums and more for the installation of immense statues, most likely using foreign technology and workforce, that will not benefit any Indian whatsoever.
But in case no claimant(s) emerge, this sum is bound to go into the coffers of a wealthy nation that may not have as grave a need for the funds as India does. Swiss banking authorities say that no resident Indian has sought the funds over the past sixty years. It also remains to be seen what a fresh set of data that the Swiss Bank authorities are expected to provide India with by September 2020 under an automatic information exchange pact will reveal. In any case, it is clear that there is a lot of money lying in dormant accounts abroad. They will lie there and probably just vanish with time and it is unlikely that even a single paisa will benefit us needy Indian whose sweat and blood may have gone into creation of that wealth. We are destined to just listen to pompous empty speeches while all our wealth is ferreted away by a handful of rogues. That situation prevails even today and there is no change in sight.