Feb 15 2012

Is Switzerland more corrupt than India?

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

Not on the face of it, obviously. But that headline comes from a Financial Times blog this morning (hat tip: David McNair), citing AP Singh, the head of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation:

“Fifty-three per cent of the countries said to be least corrupt by the Transparency International Index are offshore tax havens, where most of the corrupt money goes. The tax havens include New Zealand which is ranked as the least corrupt country, Singapore ranked number five and Switzerland ranked number [nine].

There is a lack of political will in the leading tax haven States to part with information required to trace such assets as they are all too aware of the extent to which their own economies have become geared to this flow of illegal capital from the poorer countries. India in particular has suffered from the flow of illegal funds to tax havens such as Mauritius, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, British Virgin Islands, etc.”

That thought could have been lifted straight out of Treasure Islands, or from the Tax Justice Network’s page on corruption. And it highlights how that headline isn’t just a silly, flippant comment. It really is a question worth asking.

The FT blog does, however, raise some uncomfortable further questions about India’s own role in all this offshore skulduggery, and is well worth reading.

More on the broad theme of tax havens and corruption here.

4 comments so far

[…] It turned out to be a very fruitful question: pretty much every time I asked it, i got a completely different answer, and it was usually a long, thoughtful and insightful one. A senior Indian official asked a very similar question recently: Is Switzerland more corrupt than India? […]

Siddhartha 3rd March, 2012 6.40 pm

Most of the communities in the entire Indian sub-continent(such as Bengali) are succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is genuinely regret ed or ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-admin system, bad work place, weak mother language, continuous consumption of common social space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold(supported by some lame excuses). Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting children those are born out of ignorance, extreme poverty. It seems that all of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of healthy & decent Space’ (Henri Lefebvre), an intense attachment with the society at large – one different pathway has to create to overcome inherent ‘hopeless’ mindset; decent, rich Politics will definitely come up. – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah -711101, India.

Blaise 3th March, 2012 7.31 am

As long as money is in India, it is OK whether black or white and it will serve the necoomic development. The difference between black and white money is only payment of taxes to government for its expenses. If government is facing shortage of funds, it would jack up the tax rates to extract needed funds anyhow from its means of collection. There is also a big question that who is enjoying these government funds.As the requirement of government funds are reducing relative to total economy and government shedding unrelated responsibilities other than defense, home, foreign affairs, environment, social justice and science & technology, the tax collection should drastically reduce in future.The meaning of word Excise’ is to to cut’. Excise tax is imposed by colonial rulers to cut local production by making them costly to the purchaser / exporter. Is it required to cut production in this age by imposing taxes?Of late India is showing enormous financial strength compared other developed countries. Rupee (INR) is stable compared to Dollar/ Euro and the Indian interest rates are much higher. So naturally foreign money whether owned by Indians / others will flow to India to reap better appreciation of their investments. This is happening despite high inflation in India. That means, INR is kept undervalued by the policy makers to appease exporters lobby by building up foreign currency reserves. If INR is not allowed to find its true value, interest rates and inflation are bound to go up to compensate the artificial intervention.India should attract huge foreign funds by issuing treasury bonds (in INR) at attractive interest rates to finance its infrastructure and upgrade living standards of people. There is no need of building huge foreign exchange reserves when Indian industry, service sector and agriculture are showing better competitiveness compared to developed countries. China is building up huge FE reserves because it has already huge production base bigger than its local consumption lest it would face political turmoil’s. India need not repeat the mistakes of China which are done for political reasons.

Truthfully Correct 4th April, 2016 8.26 am

Having lived in India and two westernised nations I would say no. I’m extrapolating here, since I didn’t live in Switzerland, but my experience indicates that the correct answer to this question is “hell no”.

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