New Delhi: The foreign assets kept with Swiss banks came down by about Rs 5,00,000 crore last year, amid a global outcry against the alleged practice of providing secret accounts for black money from different countries, including India.

The securities kept by foreign entities in Swiss banks were valued at 2.39 trillion Swiss francs at the end of 2010 (about Rs 12,600,000 crore at the current exchange rates), down from 2.49 trillion Swiss francs (about Rs 13, 00,000 crore) a year ago.

These are the latest figures from the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

However, the influential Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) has said one should be extremely careful before drawing conclusions about value of securities held by foreign entities.

"... the changes are due to not only client behaviour (i.e. deposits and withdrawal of funds) but also to changes in the price of the securities (mainly share and bonds) held in the custody accounts and also to developments in exchange rates," SBA's Head of International  Communications James Nason said.

Foreign clients probably hold more securities in euros and dollars than their Swiss counterparts, Nason noted.

The value of their portfolio has taken a greater bashing because of the decline in the value of the dollar and the euro vis-a-vis the Swiss franc, he added.

"A drop in value can be seen not only for foreign private clients but also for foreign commercial and foreign institutional clients," Nason pointed out.

Overall, customer holdings of securities in Swiss banks fell by 1.3 per cent to about 4.45 trillion Swiss francs in 2010.

Even though there are no definite figures on the amount of black money stashed away offshore by Indians, rough estimates had pegged the amount at around USD 1.5 trillion.

The Swiss Parliament has approved amendments to tax treaties with India and many other countries, following which the governments can now more easily secure banking information of its citizens who have deposited illegal funds in secret Swiss accounts.

Indian government is facing intense pressure from the Opposition, the Supreme Court and civil society to bring back black money stashed away in tax havens. The government has already unveiled various initiatives including studies to curb the menace of black money.