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Seda Hergnyan

Sharp Increase in Bank Transfers from Armenia to Switzerland: Economists Suggest Various Reasons

Bank remittances from Armenia to Switzerland have sharply increased since 2018

Individuals transferred some US$157 million in 2020 when compared to US$28 million in 2017.

Armenia’s Central Bank (CBA) refused to comment on the possible reasons for the increase or who is sending dollars to Switzerland, 

"Statistics management functions do not provide for behavioral analysis of the received statistical data and detection of causal links," the CBA replied.

Economists in Armenia say it is difficult to directly link the increase the outflow of dollars to Switzerland with the 2018 regime change in Armenia.

Some theorize that the increased outflow is based on the political instability in Armenia following the 2020 Artsak war. Others say the government’s anti-corruption drive has prompted some to get their money out of Armenia. Others point to the coronavirus epidemic’s impact on the economy. 

The CBA and local law enforcement agencies take note of these figures. The CBA has a Financial Monitoring Center (FMC) tasked with combatting money laundering.

CBA data provided Hetq show that more money was transferred from Switzerland to Armenia than from Armenia to Switzerland prior to 2018.

In the last ten years (2012-2021) the lowest level of remittances from Switzerland to Armenia was registered in 2014 – US$43 million and the highest in 2015 - some US$68 million.

The smallest amount of money sent from Armenia to Switzerland was in 2015 - only $ 7.5 million, the largest in 2020 - about $ 157 million.

Switzerland ranks third in remittances from Armenia

Russia is the main source of money remittances to Armenia. The USA comes in second.  

Switzerland ranked third as the destination of transfers from Armenia in 2021.   Meanwhile, follows Kazakhstan, Germany and France in terms of transfers to Armenia.

The CBA publishes transfer statistics monthly. The following chart shows the major source countries of bank transfers made by individuals to Armenia and vice-versa from January to November 2021. 

Accordingly, only 2.5% of the remittances to Armenia is from Switzerland, and about 12% of the outflow goes to that country.

Overall, during the first eleven months of 2021, individuals transferred US$1.898 billion to Armenia from overseas, an increase of $256 million (16%) compared to the same months of 2020.

During the same period, US$1.92 billion was transferred overseas from Armenia, 4% less than the previous year.

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