Dena Bank, Case 1: V. L. Mathur, Chief Manager, South Delhi

Receptive, clear to the point, Mathur understands our need, and offers help to launder our unaccounted cash. If one way doesn’t work, he makes it simple for us by availing someone else’s help: “Kisi aise aise log hain jisko cash de karke wo cheque de denge (There are people, to whom if you give cash, they will give you cheque).”

It’s a typical government bank somewhere in South Delhi, where the manager is sitting on the first floor. The Cobrapost journalist walks up the stairs and enters the Chief Manager’s V. L. Mathur’s room. There is a staff member talking over her phone, but that is hardly a problem with the manager when we announce that we wish to invest a handsome amount of money in the bank.

What sort of investment you want to make? The manager wants to know.
We say long term.

Mathur seeks to know: “Kitna amount (What is the amount)?”

It is handsome, about Rs. 1 crore, we inform.

When our reporter tells him he has come to him straight from the minister’s wife’s farmhouse Mathur seeks to know: “Mantriji … kaun sa mantri (Minister? Which minister)?”

Our reporter speaks softly to him, apparently to hint that word might go out, and tells him he would come to know who the minister is. Mathur brushes our concern aside.

We say we have to invest the money in the name of the minister’s wife who has advised to approach a government bank. Tell us what plans you have, asks our reporter.

Mathur is quick to catch on: “White ki hi money hai na wo toh … cheque se hi (Is this all white money? … is it by cheque)?”

No, we say, it’s cash, which is the cause of our worries.

But there is a cap on cash investment, he explains us: “Cash mein toh fir dekhiyega Sir … jama karne ke liye toh … within 10 lakhs aap cash jama kar sakte hain … lekin usmein PAN card chahiye hoga … lekin woh Income Tax Department … ya statement ya information nahin diya jaata hain … dus lakh se niche … ek financial year mein (You see Sir, to deposit in cash … you can deposit under Rs. 10 lakh in cash … but you will need a PAN card for it … but this information will not go to the Income Tax Department if it is less than Rs. 10 lakh in a financial year).”

So we can deposit Rs. 9 lakh before March and Rs. 9 lakh in April? We ask.

Yes, he says and gives us an idea how we can make some of our unaccounted cash white: “Haan jama kar hi do … lekin … agar aapko waise bhi invest karne hain … jaise aap mutual funds wagaireh ya LIC mein agar aap invest karna chahte hain toh main cash se jama karwa ke apko LIC karwa doon aur us LIC ke against hum immediately hum apko 65 per cent loan turant dila karke utna paise aapko wapas agaya … Otherwise, zaroorat nahin hai paise ki toh wo para rehne do (Yes deposit that … but if you want to invest in other ways such as mutual funds and LIC then I can take the cash and get an investment with LIC for you … and against that LIC [policy], I can immediately give you a loan of 65 per cent … so that much money will come back to you … otherwise, if you don’t need the money [loan], then let it be there).”

If it is a loan, we say, then our money becomes white.

Mathur reaffirms what we say: “Loan ho gaya toh white ho jayega (If it is a loan then it will become white).” He goes on to add: “Ya fir saal do saal ke baad jab lein toh white ho jayega … wo jab bhi paisa ayega … wo white mein hi ayega (Or if you take it [loan] after a year or two, it will be white … whenever that money will come, it will come in white).”

We come to know Dena Bank is a corporate agent for the LIC of India.

Exchanging number with him our reporter tells him he would like the banker to come over to meet the minister.

“Aur aap kahenge toh main unko bhi bulwa loonga LIC ki branch manager (And if you wish, I will also ask the LIC branch manager to come along).”
That would be very good.

The LIC official’s name who he would bring along to meet us is Devender Kumar, and we are advised to get all our queries satisfied from the insurance official.

So do we bring the cash here in the bank or take it to the LIC office? Our reporter asks.

Mathur interrupts: “LIC mein jama kar dena … direct (Deposit it in the LIC, direct[ly]).”

What would be your role in this?

Replies Mathur: “Humare sign honge usmein (My signature will be in that).”

How much can we invest in the name of three individuals other than the minister? Our next question is only logical.

The manager tries to get on the phone, as we inform him the minister is expecting Rs. 8–10 crore in March.

Mathur is quick to suggest: “Is beech mein … humare account khula lo ek unka (In between [the process], open one account for her).”

We would love to open one, we say.
He explains: “Account kholne ke baad jo paisa aata rehta hai … dheere dheere … thoda thoda karke … aap deposit karo (After opening the account, the money that is coming … slowly, slowly … keep putting the money in small amounts).”

We ask if there would be a problem in that.

“Koi problem nahin (No problem),” Mathur says confidently.

We would earn interest on our deposits. Mathur goes on to explain how he is going to help us slip our unaccounted cash in the banking system: “So March tak aap usmein jama kar sakte hain … savings account mein … tin logon ne apna account khol diya hai … hum nau nau lakh sabse jama kara denge… sare nau nau lakh … PAN number zaroor usmein note rahega … lekin koi problem nahin aayegi …information nahin jayegi … ye March tak ke liye … iske baad April ke baad mein, financial year jo change ho gaya, fir jama kar lenge … koi bhi ek toh dus lakh se zyada ki single entry nahin honi chajiye (So till March you can deposit … in the savings account … [suppose] three of you have opened their accounts … we will take deposits of Rs. 9 lakh from each account holder … Rs. 9.5 lakh in each account … the PAN number will sure be noted on it … but no information will go … after April, when the financial year changes, we will yet again deposit … there should be no single entry over Rs. 10 lakh).” The banker knows the rules and also knows how to circumvent them to help dubious client like us.

What more we could ask for when we could open multiple accounts and slip in our black money without it being reported to by the bank. And we have no reason to not believe when assuring us on this count is none other than the chief manager of the bank.

Mathur is an ace when it comes to tricks of trade, as he suggests: “Kisi … aise aise log hain jisko cash de karke wo cheque de denge (There are people … if you give them cash, they will give you cheque [against it]).”
Nothing like it!

But we say we are in no hurry. We would start with account opening.

We ask Mathur for lockers now, but he doesn’t have any.

However, he promises us to get one at Maidan Garhi branch of his bank: “Locker hum aapko dila denge Maidan Garhi.” He also agrees to provide us a machine for counting our money, so magnanimous Mathur is.

He asks again: “Nam kya hai mantriji ka (What is the name of the minister)?”

Why hurry when you are going to see the minister in person? Our reporter is smart enough to parry the question. It would be premature to disclose his name yet.

To allay our concern, Mathur points to the lady banker who is silent throughout the parleys: “Ye humare manager hain Dena Bank ki … kabhi ye seat pe bhi baithi hongi … ye South Ex branch mein branch manager thi .. unke paas bhi aise saare aate rehte … toh humare beech mein koi aisa nahin hai … public ka aadmi nahi hai (She is manager of Dena Bank … she must have sat there in this seat sometime time back … she was manager of the South Ex branch … such proposals used to come to her also there … so we have none from the public here among us).” South Extension is toniest of the upscale markets in the national capital, and now we have no doubt the woman banker would have dealt with scores of clients, like our mysterious minister, with mountains of money of dubious origin to invest.

Before our meeting, so far fruitful, draws to a close, we come to the last of our wish-list.

The minister’s wife often visits England. She wants to send there some of the crores. Could Mathur help us?

Mathur is of little help as he shows us the rule book. We shake hands and part.

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