Cobrapost |
January 7, 2014


Cobrapost undercover investigation Operation Red Spider had uncovered how the Indian public and private sector banks and their insurance associates have been engaging in money laundering practices. Our investigation across the banking industry in the country has revealed a progressive deterioration of banking ethics and fierce violation of financial norms.
However, not all is dark and grim in the Indian banking sector. Out of hundreds of banking personnel whom Cobrapost reporter interacted with across the country, there are a few bank managers who stood out as redemptive icons of the Indian banking industry. This special feature is dedicated to these 5 bankers who upheld the ethics and principles of banking.
Cobrapost Associate Editor Syed Masroor Hasan presented these bankers with the proposition of converting his fictitious politician’s black money to white.
– The Bankers refused to accept any deposit in cash
– They insisted that every transaction be accompanied by the mandatory pan card
– They refused to pay personal visits to the clients’ residence for any consultation
– They insisted on declaration of source of income for all heavy deposits
– They informed the client, right at the outset, that any investment advice would happen onlyafter a detailed financial assessment of the client
– In word and in deed, they honored the regulations of RBI and the Income Tax department
This special feature is dedicated to these bankers who have given us hope.
1. Balsubramaniam, Axis Bank, Branch Manager
Balasubramaniam is Branch Manager with Axis Bank in Hyderabad. Small money or big, he will insist on a pan card. And if you talk in the language of cash, there is no question of any conversation. He will abort all further discussion by quoting the most basic banking laws. He tell the reporter, “…if you are looking for that much amount definitely we need to see the source of the fund.. I mean income proof and all those things. Are these things there? I.T. returns…without that cannot do that”.
When the reporter asks if declaring the income is not likely to cause him any problem, Subramaniam says, “..Notice तो नहीं आए लेकिन but any how you have show this thing ना…it is mandatory” (It will not come to notice but you have to show it, right? It is mandatory). And when the reporter tells him that the amount in question is in cash, Subramaniam is quick with his answer, “Forget it… Where you can make that much of cash limits? ..It has to be done through cheque only and proper accounting…we cannot help you if it is in cash.
Whatever the amount of black money one may have, there is no question of getting a word edgeways with Mr Subramaniam. He will not entertain you. Period.
2. SK Garg, Bank of Baroda
SK Garg is Branch Manager with Bank of Baroda in Moradabad who seems to have no time for things that do not fall within the rules. Bearing a demeanor that screams strict business, he dismisses any hope that the reporter may have of laundering his money through this branch.
He declares, “number 2 में तो यहां तो कुछ होता ही नहीं है अब” (number 2 business doesn’t happen here at all anymore).
What about putting the cash into an investment product, such as LIC? Garg is intolerant at the very suggestion and tells the reporter, “नहीं देखिए insurance कुछ भी होगा 50 हजार से ऊपर पे सारे PAN number सब चाहिए होंगे वो तो हमें..” (no, look. Even if it is insurance, anything above Rs 50,000, we will require PAN and everything..).
Finally there is a banker who gives some respect to the IT department. SK Garg warns his client about the might of the taxmen saying, “income TAX department सब उतार देता है” (Sir income tax department detects everything).
3. Anurag Prakash, Canara Bank
Unlike the intolerant SK Garg of Bank of Baroda, Chief Manager Anurag Prakash of Canara Bank is a little more gentle in turning down his loaded client’s money laundering request. Soon after the reporter realizes that there is no way he can park his black money in this branch of Canara Bank, he plays his last card – Can the bank at least allot a locker to store his cash? Prakash replies, “..account खोलिएगा तो locker देख लीजिये available है की नही वो Ramsharad जी से बात कर लीजिये इसके लिए पर मुझे नही लगता की कोई scheme….कोई scheme नही है to be very frank.. और Insurance मे भी कराइएगा तो 49000 से ऊपर जो भी कराइएगा वो आपका PAN Number लग जाएगा… किसी भी Insurance company किसी भी Bank किसी भी Branch का ये ही rule है.. और RBI खुद strict है इन सब चीजो मे हम लोग भी कुछ पैसे अगर extra जमा करते है तो आ जाता है की कहा से कैसे आया क्या आया”
(if you get an account opened, you can if a locker is available..speak with Ramsharadji about the locker but I don’t think there is any scheme…there is no scheme for you, to be very frank…and even if you want to invest in insurance, beyond Rs 49,000 you will have to give your PAN card..every insurance company and every bank has the same rule..And even RBI itself is very strict about these things. Even when we deposit some extra money, we are asked where the money has come from and how and what..).
Anurag Prakash tells his loaded client in no uncertain terms that he will not allow any transaction in cash. He announces, “cash मे तो possible ही नही है… Bank से मुश्किल है आपको help मिलना….” (in cash is not possible at is difficult for you to get any help from the bank).
4. Ashish Agarwal, HSBC Bank, Associate Vice President, Hyderabad
This is HSBC Bank on Liberty Road in Hyderabad. The Cobrapost reporter is led to Ashish Aggarwal, to whom he states his intent to route crores of rupees into the bank’s accounts. It is a sheer delight to watch this banker respond to the anxious reporter’s money laundering request. He says, “…any money come into the account we need to know what is the source of the funds. It is as per the RBI guidelines …PAN card is compulsory for that”.
When the reporter feigns ignorance about the rules, Ashish explains to him, “..जैसे जैसे मैं example देता हूँ sometime people sell properties and they get cash so they will need to submit the property document that you this is where your money is coming..we we will need to have all of these check and place और cash हम लोग वैसे भी we don’t kind of promote also too much cash”.
What if a PAN card is arranged? Would it be possible to deposit the cash in the bank? Ashish remains firm in his response, “PAN card अगर आप PAN card arrange भी करेंगे तो भी…तो भी source बताना ही है…and if it is a doubt full source या कुछ है तो फिर हम लोग खुद ही उसको promote नहीं करते” (even if you arrange the PAN will have to declare the source of funds..and if it is a doubtful source or something, we do not promote it).
It is indeed a pleasure to hear someone point out the rules to erring clients. However, the undercover reporter decides to test him further. He enquires if he has to declare the source of money being remitted from foreign accounts. Ashish patiently explains, “…वो पुछेगें कि ये पैसा क्यों आ रहा है ..जो विदेशी पैसा आ रहा है वो क्यों आ रहा है अब मैं देखिए आप बूरा मत मानिए आप मान मैं ये नहीं कह रहा है कि आप ऐसे हैं पर मान लीजिए कोई terrorist money आया country में ..अगर bank नहीं पुछेगा तो कौन पूछेगा …तो bank कि responsibility है कि पुछे ये पैसा क्या है वो customer कौन है ..तो bank कि responsibility भी है और duty भी है” (..they will ask why is this money coming in…whatever foreign funds are coming in, what is the purpose of remittance? Now please do not take offence to what I am saying, I am not saying that you do this. Suppose some terrorist money comes into the country..if the bank doesn’t ask, who will? So it is the bank’s responsibility to enquire about the source of the money, the profile of the customer…it is the bank’s responsibility as well as its duty).
5. Akash, HSBC Bank
This HSBC branch will not jump at a loaded client looking for long term investment options. Akash politely explains to his client that the customer’s profile will be fully studied before any plan is suggested. He explains to his client, “…in HSBC how we do I will tell you Sir. First we need to have an account with HSBC..Then we need to know about the customer’s profile.
Then only we will suggest any investment..”.
Akash will not humor you if you tell him that you do not wish to show your income to the taxmen. He will firmly and politely advice, “We request you to show all the returns that you get to the income tax”.
And if you do not wish to show your PAN, well, this branch of HSBC is certainly not for you.
The reporter tells the banker that he does not wish to attach his pan card to any of his transactions and Akash explains to him, “…Sir, I will tell you Sir here rules and process are strict …like there should be a PAN number attached…we not be able to an account without the Pan number ..And if insurance your are taking if it is more than 50 thousand rupees, if you are investing into that we are require PAN number for that also Sir”.
Will the banker make some time in the evening to pay a visit to the minister’s house for a detailed discussion, our conscientious banker informs him rather directly, “No, we are not supposed to…Sir we want our customer to come. We want them to be there”.
There is no question of Akash paying personal visits to his clients’ residence, politician or otherwise. All subsequent attempts by the reporter to convince the banker were politely aborted by Akash. The banker finally puts a polite end to the long conversation saying, “We don’t accept that money Sir”.
Akash will not accept the money if the client does not declare the source of funds. And neither would BalaSubraniam, SK Garg, Anurag Prakash or Ashish Agarwal. It is heartening to see these bankers lead by example.

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