New Vision (Kampala)

23 June 2012

Uganda: Locals Hiding 400 Billion Shillings in Swiss Banks

Wealthy Ugandans have close to sh400b stashed away in secret Swiss bank accounts, according to a report released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) - Switzerland's central bank.

The report places Uganda among top African countries that have millions of dollars in Swiss banks.

The total amount in Switzerland's banks stood at 1.53 trillion Swiss francs at the end of 2011, which included 154m Swiss francs (sh400b) belonging to Ugandan individuals and entities.

New Vision could not establish details of the account holders. One American dollar is equivalent to 1.049 Swiss Francs.

1.53 trillion Swiss francs at the end of 2011, which included 154m Swiss francs (sh400b) belonging to Ugandan individuals and entities. New Vision could not establish details of the account holders.

One American dollar is equivalent to 1.049 Swiss Francs.

The official figures, described by SNB as 'liabilities' of Swiss banks towards their clients from various countries, do not show the total amount of the much-debated alleged 'black money' held by Africans or other nationals in the safe havens of Switzerland.

The Swiss banks' direct liabilities towards clients from Uganda include funds held in savings and deposit accounts and assets of Ugandan individuals and corporates.

Deputy Inspector General of Government Raphael Baku yesterday said Uganda is yet to enact the Anti-Money Laundering law which would deal with transfer of ill-gotten wealth abroad.

"The problem is that we don't have an enabling law on funds illegally transferred outside the country. In the absence of the law, the banks have no obligation to report to us about the transfers," he explained.

Seychelles (sh6.6 trillion), Kenya (sh2.1 trillion), South Africa (sh2.09 trillion) and Egypt (sh2.08trillion) are the top African countries whose nationals have stashed away millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, according to the report.

Swiss banks are a leading destination for people, mostly criminals and dictators because of the strict security and banking secrecy policies.

Switzerland last year found 360m Swiss francs ($415.8 million) of potentially illegal assets linked to slain Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi and his circle stashed in the Alpine country.

Some 410m Swiss francs was also traced to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and 60m Swiss francs linked to former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Swiss authorities also last year froze assets belonging to Ivory Coast's deposed President Laurent Gbagbo.

There has been global pressure for Switzerland to ask its banks to share information about their clients with foreign governments.

The UK has the largest share of money stashed in Swiss accounts, followed closely by the US according to the data.

The UK and the US are followed by West Indies, Jersey, Germany, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Panama France, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab of Emirates.

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