Switzerland remains the world’s most secretive place on financial matters, while India ranks 32nd on a new global scale.
Switzerland, despite global efforts to crack down on the famed secrecy walls surrounding Swiss banks, was on top, followed by Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Singapore, US, Lebanon, Germany, Jersey and Japan in the top-ten of the inaugural worldwide Financial Secrecy Index.
The index was compiled by the Tax Justice Network, a global research and advocacy group focused on tax matters, and includes a total of 82 jurisdictions from across the world.
According to Tax Justice Network, the Financial Secrecy Index ranks jurisdictions based on their secrecy and the scale of their activities and serves as a tool for understanding global financial secrecy, tax havens and illicit financial flows.
The index revealed that the traditional stereotype of tax havens is “misconceived.”
According to the report, “world’s most important providers of financial secrecy are not small, palm-fringed islands as many suppose, but some of the world’s biggest and wealthiest countries.”
“Switzerland is the grandfather of the world’s tax havens, one of the world’s biggest financial centres, and one of the world’s biggest secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens,” the report said.
In 2012, around $2.8 trillion in assets were under management in Switzerland, or about a quarter of the world’s total, according to the Swiss Bankers’ Association, it added.
On India, the report said that the country was assessed with 46 secrecy points out of a potential 100, and was ranked 32 — in the lower mid-range of the secrecy scale.
India accounts for slightly less than 2 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a small player compared with other secrecy jurisdictions.
The report further noted “India’s 46 per cent secrecy score shows that it must still make major progress in offering satisfactory financial transparency.”
An estimated $21 to 32 trillion of private financial wealth is located, untaxed or lightly taxed, in secrecy jurisdictions globally. Illicit cross-border financial flows add up to an estimated $1-1.6 trillion each year.
The report analysed the jurisdiction on the basis of 15 secrecy indicators including banking secrecy, efficiency of tax administration, anti-money laundering, bilateral treaties, international transparency commitments and international judicial cooperation.