So, what exactly are we talking about?
The other day, someone pointed me to an article about how a small section of the Indian population has stashed away close to $1.5 trillion(!) in secret swiss bank accounts. Curious that I am, I promptly went ahead and searched for this amazing piece of information on the web, and found –
Dishonest industrialists, scandalous politicians and corrupt IAS, IRS, IPS officers have deposited in foreign banks in their illegal personal accounts a sum of about $ 1500 billion, which have been misappropriated by them. This amount is about 13 times larger than the country’s foreign debt. With this amount 45 crore poor people can get Rs 1,00,000 each. This huge amount has been appropriated from the people of India by exploiting and betraying them.
Sources for this available here [Link to a Google search]
Click “Read More” or scroll down for more!
Turns out, this information was taken from a chain email that was forwarded to a bunch of people by an (as yet) unknown source – and promptly taken up by the smaller sections of the Indian web media, and certain bloggers who ought to have known better. This became mainstream news, people! Almost ALL of them started making moral judgments about the extent of corruption in the country too! :)
I was rather intrigued when I saw that there were Actual figures posted on these websites. Given the high levels of secrecy which swiss bankers are known for, this seemed rather surprising!
Black money in Swiss banks — Swiss Banking Association report, 2006 details bank deposits in the territory of Switzerland by nationals of following countries:
India—- $1456 billion
Russia—$ 470 billion
Ukraine- $100 billion
China—–$ 96 billion
Depositors money in Swiss banks — Swiss Banking Association report, 2008 details bank deposits in the territory of Switzerland by nationals of following countries:
India—- $1891 billion
Russia—– $610 billion
China—— $213 billion
UK——– $210 billion
Ukraine ———– $140 billion
Rest of the world —-$300 billion
The organization mentioned – the Swiss Banking Association – fortunately, does exist. And so do their annual reports – available for download, publicly. Their latest report is available on their front page.
I used google custom site search to query words like “1456 billion” and “India”. Since the german name for India is “Indien”, I also tried that, as well as other words I thought might be pertinent.
Zilch. Nada. Nix.
The URL I used was this . Feel free to try it out yourself!
I downloaded most of their reports and gave it a brief glance as well, to no avail. There were absolutely no mentions of any country’s deposits, save some tables and charts which highlight their growth, tax treaty information and sovereign wealth fund information. In fact, in the german versions of the 2006 report – there are only some 5 mentions of the word “Indien”. The latest report features “India” some 8-10 mentions times, and thats pretty much it.
Does anyone have any pointers on whether this information actually exists – perhaps I’m missing something?
Seriously though. The web media needs to REALLY do some research before they start proliferating information that is so clearly false. This is rather harmless as misinformation campaigns go, but this sort of collective ineptness in validating your sources (which I thought was one of the cardinal rules of main stream journalism) – highlights just how far this medium has to go before it can be accepted as an authentic source of information.