Cobrapost |
May 8, 2013

Bank of Baroda, Case 3: D. Singh, Senior Manager, South Delhi

Experience shows in every word that the senior banker utters. He is cool to all manner of proposals, providing solutions as to secure the black money in its place

It is a casual stroll by the Cobrapost reporter into this branch of Bank of Baroda in a tony area of South Delhi. There, he spots a senior banker who seems capable of handling delicate matters, and broaches as much casually his proposition: He wants to make a “long-term investment” of Rs 50–60 lakh. The moment our reporter tells him there should be no TDS, it brings him a smile to ask: “TDS nahin katna hai! Kiske naam mein karna hai (There should be no

TDS? In whose name it has to be done)?”

We have reached the right person, we are sure.

It has to be done in three names: the minister’s wife, the reporter himself, supposedly working for the minister, and the reporter’s wife. It is actually the minister’s money.

Singh is quick to ask: “Declared kya hai … income tax mein kya batate ho (What is declared … what do you show in your income tax returns).”

We dabble in real estate, says the reporter.
“Return file karte ho … teeno (Do you file returns … all three),” asks Singh.

We certainly do but the problem is that we can’t show this kind of money in our ITR.

Although not so innocuous a proposition such as this involving a big amount should have raised eyebrows, Singh takes it in his stride and goes on to suggest: “Aise aadmi ke naam daal doonga jo return file na karta ho (I will put in the name of a person who doesn’t file the return).” The nonchalance Singh displays shows his experience in dealing with such issues.
Could it be his driver, asks our reporter?

Singh explains further: “Haan … uski wajah sirf yehi hai ki jo return file nahin karta … theek hai na … uske naam mein daal denge … ek certificate hum sign karaate hain … ki mera jo income hai wo taxable banti nahin hai (Yes … the reason is that a person who doesn’t file returns … alright … we will invest in his name … we will get him sign a certificate declaring that whatever income I have is not taxable ).” Obviously, when you have no income to show as taxable, then there will be no TDS, and what Singh proffers is open benami accounts for investment.
Fine! Then we will bring three persons on board, tells the reporter.

Nodding in agreement, Singh continues: “Aisa kagaz hota hai humare paas … form hota hai … wo sign karwa lete hain … meri jo annual income hai wo itni nahin hai jispe tax lage (We have this paper … we have this form, which we get signed, saying that my annual income is not bigenough to attract tax).”

But then who will be authorized to withdraw money, asks our reporter? The import is not lost on Singh who is apt to come up with a novel suggestion: “Joint account kar lo, pahela naam uska rakhlo jiska tax nahin hoti hai, doosra apna rakh lo jo monitoring karni hai … Theek hai … monitoring karenge toh wo nikal hi nahin payega … paper bhi apne paas rakhna…. bagair papare ke waise hi nahin niklega (Do it through joint account. Put his name first, then for the second account holder put the name of the one who will be monitoring it … alright … if you are monitoring then he won’t be able to withdraw money … keep also the papers with you … without papers it won’t be withdrawn ).”

Would there be any problem if we deposit Rs. 20 lakh in each of the three accounts, asks our reporter? It is not a problem with Singh. All he wants is the addresses of the account holders are bona fide: “Dal jayega … lekin wo baat hai … account kaise khologe … unke addresses bona fide hone chahiye (That will be done … but the thing is how will you open the accounts … their addresses should be bona fide).”

We will provide you bona fide documents, reassures our reporter. When he comes to know that Singh is a senior manager with his bank, our reporter gleefully asks Singh to go ahead with the investment part. Singh is quick to reply: “Kar denge … le ke aoge tabhi to karoonga (Will do it … I will be able to do it only when you bring in).” The sooner, the better, is Singh’s mantra.

Now the bigger question!

The minister is expecting Rs. 5–7 crore from some deal in Greater Noida, says the reporter.

Would the bank provide us a locker big enough to safe keep the cash there?

Singh immediately agrees to provide one, saying: “Humare paas jitne locker available hain, bara nahin hai aaj ki taarikh mein, abhi chote locker hain wo hum de denge, lekin jab tak unki requirejent hogi … ab unka waiting list mein naam likh lete hain … jaise hi bara locker khali hoga toh pehla hum unko de denge (Whatever lockers we have available with us … there is no big locker as of today … but when a requirement arises … I will put his name on the list … as soon as the big locker is vacated we will allot it to him).”

Since the cash of Rs. 5–7 crore would in bills of 500, would he provide two lockers?
Singh gives his nod, and goes on to say that one locker would be allotted to the minister’s wife, and before our reporter suggests the other locker could be allotted in the minister’s driver’s name, Singh asks the reporter to get one in his wife’s name, striking a note of caution. “Ek apni wife ke naam se le lo … driver leke bhag jayega saare paise (Take one in your wife’s name … the driver may run away with the money).”

But how is it possible when you have a key of the locker, asks our reporter, aghast at the suggestion? Singh patiently explains that the bank is legally bound to allow the signature-holder access to the locker. Hence, allotting a locker in the driver’s name would not be safe.

There is much more of such money, the reporter confides in him. Would he suggest some ways to invest that, too, to make it white, without showing it in our books?

Singh suggests the same remedy as he did for our initial proposition: “Wo theek nahi hai … aise aadmi ke naam rakho jaise maine bataya … dus bees aadmi pakad lo … un subke naam joint rakho … second rakho apne aadmi ka … au raise aadmi rakho jo tax return bharte hi nahin (That is not right … put in the name of some such fellows as I have already suggested you … get 10–20 people … get joint accounts in all their names, put for the second account holder the name of your man … and get such people who don’t file returns).”

He keeps on explaining: “Jitna bhi paisa hai, usko aise aadmiyon ke naam rakho …. hum ye toh poochenge nahin ki tumhara paisa kahan se aya kahan se … hum to nahin poochenge … nahin to koi le jayga paisa (Whatever the amount is … put it in such people’s names … now we will not ask you from where has this money come … we will not ask you … otherwise somebody will run away with your money).”

Hope, such information is not leaked, says our reporter.

Replies Singh with this assurance: “Yehan se nahin jaata, yehan se nahin jaata (It is not leaked … it is not leaked).”

Before the meeting draws to a close, our reporter puts another poser to Singh.

The minister’s wife often goes to England? Would you help us send overseas some of the crores kept in your lockers?

Refusing outright the suggestion, Singh nonetheless says: “Wo alag trareeke hain (Those are entirely different methods).”

Would you help us, asks the reporter again?

Reassures Singh: “Baat kerenge (We will talk).”

The meeting thus ends with this assurance.

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