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Foreign-held accounts could top SFr2 trillion

The amount of money deposited in Swiss banks by foreigners could be more than twice what was previously estimated, according to the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA).

Up to SFr2.15 trillion in foreign private clients funds is the estimate given by the SBA in response to inquiries from the NZZ am Sonntag, the newspaper reported on Sunday.

The sum is twice the estimate given up to now by the Swiss National Bank, which mentioned SFr1 trillion. Based on the new higher figure, accounts belonging to foreign private clients would represent 42 per cent of the total funds held by Swiss banks.

The discrepancy is explained by whether account holders are counted as individuals or as institutions. "In reality private individuals are behind many institutional investors [such as foundations]" Thomas Sutter of the SBA told NZZ am Sonntag.

Overall, Swiss banks have SFr5.2 trillion on deposit, close to ten times the GDP of the country. Some SFr1.3 trillion belongs to Swiss private clients and SFr1 trillion is in the hands of domestic institutional investors, namely pension funds.

Between SFr1.85 trillion and SFr2.15 trillion of the remainder comes from private individuals from outside the country, with foreign institutional investors controlling between SFr750 billion and SF1.05 trillion, the SBA estimates.

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