Cobrapost |
May 8, 2013

Bank of Maharashtra, Case 2: A.C. Bej, Chief Manager, South Delhi

The manager’s arrogance may run ahead of him, but he is sure that the system would be helpful in his designs. No underhand adjustment is a problem. Says Bej of his motto: “Hum aisa logo ko seva karne ke liye baithe hai na (We are here to serve people like this).”

Entering this branch of Bank of Maharashtra in an upmarket area of South Delhi, the Cobrapost journalist approaches a lady official and presents his case: He has to discuss a handsome investment. The basic discussions are about FDs but when we mention insurance, the lady directs us to Chief Manager A.C. Bej.

He finishes his work as we wait, attending to other customers. He turns and we start explaining. The usual question of who the minister is comes up when we say the money belongs to a minister. We dodge it quickly and explain that we have Rs. 50–60 lakh to invest for now. More money is coming in March. We don’t want TDS. What are the options?
He asks if the minister has a PAN. We say yes, but would there be a problem if PAN is given?
That is when we see his confidence, bordering on arrogance. “Mein hoon na (I am here).”

We say good, but this should not be disclosed.

He explains. “Income Tax ka log ap ke paas thoda aata hai … yahan ageya … main jab tak unko password nahin doonga wo thoda ja ke dekh lega (The Income Tax people seldom come to you … if they come here … until I give them the password, how will they go and check).”
And there is more assurance from the senior banker: “Koi aata nahin … Income Tax

Department log humare bhi friend rahta hai na (Nobody comes … we also have friends in the Income Tax Department).”

But no way can the name of the politician be disclosed, we say.

He waves it off: “Arre kuch nahin hoga … Ponty Chadha kitna rakha tha … goli marne ki baad pata chala tha (Nothing will happen … what Ponty Chadha had was known only after he was shot dead).”

We say we will organise a meeting with the minister in the evening and he readily agrees. We ask if there is any problem in his coming over to the house of the minister.
He says: “Nahin, nahin … hum hain na (No, no … I am there).”
We say that the cash is kept at home.

He comforts us saying his bank is less a home for our cash: “Yeh aapki ghar jaisa sochiye (Think of this as your own home).”

Bej asks: “Madam ka khata hai ki nahin (Does Madam [minister’s wife] have an account here or not)/”

No, but she would to have one.
Bej can’t wait: “Kab kholengi? Aaj abhi bula lo (When will she open? Why don’t you bring her today right away).”

In the evening, we say.

A staff member comes into the room to do some photocopies. He is extremely interested in our discussions, but Bej is not worried at all about his presence. When we say that the politician’s wife has asked for a locker because she wants to keep Rs. 5–7 crore coming in some time later from Greater Noida, he promptly replies: “Haan, de denge (Yes, will give).” We ask for the biggest size (of locker) and he is okay with that too.

He asks for the politician’s wife’s name, which we give. He asks for the address, to which we say we will take him to the house. That does not agree with him. He comes forward and says reassuringly: “Suno, bank log, doctor wakil, woh apna rehte hain … tum kyun itna darta hai (Listen … bankers, doctors lawyers are your own people … why are you so scared)?”

We say fear has to be there. After all, this is a serious matter regarding Income Tax.
Meanwhile, the other staffer is extremely curious about the discussions here, though Bej totally ignores his presence.

There is another assurance from Bej: “Income Tax Commissioner mera friend hai … fir kyun chinta karte ho (The Income Tax Commissioner is my friend … so why are you worried)?”
Bej is a bit of a show-off too, and to impress us he taps his smart phone for the number asking us if we knew CIC.

We show ignorance and are now eager to know who the big daddy is. He says: “Batata hoon na (I’ll tell you).” While he keeps searching for the name, he mutters: “Itna dar jaate toh kaisa hoga re (How will it work if you are so scared)?”
Finally, he shows us his phone book entry of one big shot from Mumbai.
That’s great, we say, we are relieved of all tensions. We ask if the man at helms in Mumbai is as well responsible for Delhi too.
He says yes.

Probably not the right information, but his arrogance is amazing. The staffer leaves his room, suitably educated and impressed, as the manager tells us: “Toh itne kyun darta hai (So why are you so scared)?”

As he sits back, we give him the whole fabricated pot-boiler about Rs. 25 crore of the minister’s black money having been invested in a realty project, in which the builder failed to deliver the promised Rs. 45 crore, and a Rs. 37 crore compromise is being worked out instead.

That money comes in later, but how we need to adjust and launder Rs. 7–8 crore.
As we try to confirm the evening meeting, he asks why the minister’s wife won’t come to the branch instead?

We give an excuse about the driver coming to know of the minister’s wife coming to the bank.

“Kyun, dikkat kya hai? Ek baar khata mein likh rakha to fir… (Why, what is the problem? Once the account is opened … then …).”

He explains why the bank is situated where it is. “Gaari rakhna, andar ana … gaari mein chale jana … kisi ko pata chalega nahin. (You park your car, come in, and leave in your car … nobody will come to know).”

We are comforted.

Then we present the third case about the minister’s wife frequenting England and about her wanting to transfer Rs. 30-40 lakh from the crores of cash to be kept in the locker out of the country.

“Bhej sakte hain (Can send it),” says the manager. We ask him to arrange that also.
Regarding KYC, he asks for the passport and electricity bill. So eager he is to have the minister’s family among his client is that he says: “Aaj hi khata khulwa doonga … 8–10 lakh se pehle khata kholta hoon (I will open the account today itself … first will open an account with Rs. 8–10 lakh).”

The banker’s last sales pitch is: “Hum aisa logo ko seva karne ke liye baithe hai na (We are here to serve people like this).”

Comforted and happy, we leave.

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