Mind-boggling figures of inflows and outflows of illicit money to and from India

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 series in November last year to choke the supply of black money stacked inside the country, detractors had back then said that all black money were stashed in Swiss bank.

Recently, a report by the US-based think tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has estimated that a staggering $770 billion black money has entered India during the period of 2005 to 2014. The report titled ‘Illicit Financial Flows to and from Developing Countries: 2005-2014’, is the first global study on outflows and inflows of illicit money.

During 2014 alone, about $101 billion black money entered the country, while $23 billion was taken out, the report said.

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The report stated that the total illicit financial outflow in India between 2005-2014 period was about $165 billion, which is 3 per cent of the country’s total trade of $5500.744 billion during the same period.

But since accounts in Swiss banks are largely secret, the question is how the data was calculated.

But, this ET report states that the GFI estimate stands out from its previous estimations for adopting “rigorous method” of collecting and analysing information on international trade and balance of payments. Besides using IMF global data on direction of trade, the GFI report has included information from other sources to plug gaps.

The Supreme Court had said that black money was nothing but a plunder of the nation with serious security ramifications. While experts are still working out the final figure, a conservative estimate pegs India’s black money stashed overseas at Rs 400 lakh crore.

After assuming office in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set up of a Special Investigative Team (SIT), headed by former Supreme Court Judge MB Shah, to unearth illegal money stashed in tax havens. The MB Shah Commission had submitted five reports to the Supreme Court on methods to curb black money. Citing the disclosure of Panama Papers, the Commission said unless there is the deterrent provision, it would be difficult to get back the stashed money outside the country.

To curb the flow of black money, the Centre in the last three years has taken several initiatives. Of the 175 reported cases of black money allegedly stashed overseas, the CBDT has already filed 164 prosecutions following assessments of sums that add up to Rs 8,000 crore.

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