Federal Bank, Case 1: M. Gupta, Senior Manager, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

This is an officer with no regard for law. He will do all within his powers, with the system backing him up, to launder black money, would get us someone else to transfer all our unaccounted cash into our bank account. Most importantly, he would help us send our crores through hawala: “Uske liye to hawala kar deta hoon (I can have a hawala [transaction] done for that).”

The Cobrapost journalist enters the bank and approaches a lady official, Jaya, and presents the case: A minister wants to invest Rs. 50 lakh in some long-term instrument, with handsome returns and no TDS. It has to be done in three names: me, my wife and the minister’s wife. More money is expected in February.

Jaya asks us for the source of income. We tell her its black money and we want to convert it into white.

She tells us to give income proof. While walking towards Senior Manager M. Gupta’s room, we talk about some other schemes. She tells us about a scheme where we can invest Rs. 50 lakh to double it in 10 years.

But Jaya is not of much help and only her boss could help us: “Woh direct mein … mujhe ye nahin pata ki direct payment kar sakte hain … itna cash … black hai na … usko white karne ke liye kitne divide karna padega … wo batayenge (That is in direct … I don’t know if you can make a direct payment … so much cash … it’s after all black money … how much needs to be divided to convert it into white … only he will tell).”

She then enters the branch manager’s chamber and briefs him before our reporter is allowed to meet him. As soon as we start talking about the investment, the officer warns us: “Ye ho ki yahan par humhare beech baat rahe (What we are talking here should be kept to ourselves).”
Why don’t you come over to our place and move forward? Our reporter invites him.

Replies Gupta to tell us to not tell it anybody: “Koi dikkat nahin … matlab aise aage leak na karna ki aise aise humne kuch kiya … ye hota ki josh mein aa jate hain … bolte … humne sub kuch kara diya hai (No problem, but you should not leak this ever that you did like this … this happens when you get excited … they tell others that I have done all this).”

We assure him not a single word would go out and we brief him about the investment we want to make. We also tell him another lot of Rs. 5–7 crore cash is expected to come in February.

He has an immediate and ready solution: “Kuch humhari party hogi … jo is tarah ka kaam karti hai … paisa apse le lenge … aur aapke hi account mein transfer dikha denge cash ka (We have a party who do these things … they will take your money and transfer the cash in your account).”

He gives them his full endorsement: “Wo bilkul pakke ka kaam karti hain (They do a professional job).” And he goes on to explain the reason for adopting this method: “Abhi … cash ki information jaati hai Income Tax Department mein … cash agar aap payment karoge… information nikal jati hai (Now … information on cash transactions goes to the Income Tax department …. if you pay in cash the information go out).”

There is a twist in the tale too: “Unke cash de diya ki ye aapko account mein transfer kar diya … transfer ke entry nahin rahti … cash ki entry rehti hai (You give them cash and they transfer it into your account … there is no entry for transfers … there is entry for cash).”
We make it clear that we would only deal with the bank. We would not trust a third party with the cash.

“Wo saari jimmedari humari hai (The entire responsibility for this is ours),” assures Gupta and adds: “Aapko tension lene ki zaroorat nahin (You do not need to take any tension).”

This is a quick, underhand solution to a rather prickly problem. We sound relieved. But the manager has more plans.

Gupta asks: “Ye batao ki aap gold coins nahin le loge (Tell me if you won’t like to buy gold coins)?”

We say yes. That would be easier to carry.

Gupta informs us the gold on offer is cent-per-cent pure and a certificate would be provided by the bank when we buy it.

It is an appealing idea. We ask if we would be paid by cheque when we sell it back, effectively laundering the black money.

Gupta assures: “Woh bhi apka white ho jayega (That [black money invested in gold] will also become white).”

After discussing investment in gold, we suggest a meeting where things could be finalised in the presence of the minister. That is when we would decide on purchasing the coins. We also tell him that the name of the minister should not be mentioned anywhere in the deal. He agrees to keep the minister’s name a secret.

We get down to finding a long-term investment solution. We dismiss fixed deposits outright. Isn’t there anything in insurance? Gupta says: “Amount bahut bada hai na ye (This is a very big amount).”

We say we will not do it all in one go. We will do it over a period of time in small amounts. Jaya and Gupta discuss recurring deposits, with no TDS, where we can invest in small amounts. We tell Gupta, too, that it will be invested in the name of three people.

Asks Jaya: “Teeno mein kisi ka bhi PAN card hai (Does any of the three have PAN card?).” We put it out in the open: if you can do it without PAN, fine, or we will arrange a PAN card.

The two discuss some methods that involve transfers through net banking. They will use the RTGS method to transfer the money. The money is laundered, says the banker. The banker also fixes a possibility of arranging a loan for us against investments, which will again help us convert our money.

Gupta assures us all our money would be safe: “Aapka poora paisa ekdum safe hai (All your money is safe).”

But it involves a fee for the person who is to help in transferring the money, Gupta informs us.

We would say upfront whatever the charges are, says our reporter, while asking him to employ only a method that has already been used and is safe.

Reassures Gupta: “Aapki … security poori hai … aapke samne bataoonga (There is full security for you … will tell him in front of you).”

We move over to the locker issue and ask if he could provide them.

“Ho jana chahiye (Should be done),” he says. If not a big one, he will definitely provide a small one, he says.

We come to the third issue, of transferring money out of the country. We repeat the story about the minister’s wife being a frequent visitor to England, and that she would like to slowly transfer some of the Rs. 5–7 crore cash to be kept in the locker to somebody in that country.

What is the way out?

He has a quick answer: “Uske liye to hawala kar deta hoon (I can have a hawala [transaction] done for that).”

We say that we need this to be safely done.

Gupta smiles: “India tak hi humari jan pehchan hai … India ke bahar nahin kar sakte hain kuch bhi (My circle of influence is restricted to India only… beyond India I can’t do anything).”

No, we intervene. Can this be done through the bank?

That proves to be a problem, as Gupta says: “Wo sub kuch bank likhwata hai … matlab abhi bank bolta hai sub kuch likh kar do … paisa kyun jaa raha hai … kitna paisa bahar ja raha hai … kyun ja raha hai … kis purpose se bahar ja raha hai (The bank makes us write everything … I mean, nowadays bank says … write everything … why the money is going out … how much money is going out … for what purpose it is going out).”

We say this is a problem because then we would have to show the source of the fund.

The banker has a solution: “Kuch hawala karobari hain … jo kaafi dino ka kaam karte hain … unka sirf kaam hi yeh hai … wo paise ko ghuma dete hain (There are some hawala operators … who are doing it for a long time … they do only this kind of job … they can transfer the money).”

We say we need trust. We are scared about losing the money.

He tries to assure us: “Ye ek … meri jankar hai (This one… I know).”

We advise him how to brief the minister and we also discuss how the cash would be brought.

He agrees to go to the house and talk.

We shake hands and part.

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