HDFC Bank, Case 1: M. Arora, Manager; A. Sinha, Branch Head, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

A very supportive staff. Current and savings accounts for all enable routing of cash with ease. Lockers will take in all extra black money. A win-win deal for both parties.

The Cobrapost reporter walks into what we find to be an extremely hospitable branch of HDFC Bank somewhere in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Here, we meet M. Arora, a manager senior enough to stand in for the branch manager. We straightaway come to talking business: A politician wants to invest Rs. 80 lakh in some long-term scheme, with no TDS. FDs are a no. Money is in cash.

Arora, the young executive, has a blunt question: “Har saal 80, 80, 80 (Every year Rs. 80 lakh)?”

This proves a bit too much even for us and we need a while to catch our breath. No, we say, we start slow. We say that another Rs. 7-8 crore is expected in March.
Arora is very proactive in asking specific questions regarding our investment. We tell her that as of now, the aim is to start with a smaller amount. We want to invest in three names: me, my wife and the minister’s wife.

Within two minutes, she is able to assess our needs. Arora understands now why we don’t want to go for FDs: “Books me show karna padega (You will have to show it in the books).”
Arora takes us to Branch Head A. Sinha’s cabin. Arora briefs Sinha about our investment proposal: “Teen accounts open hone hai and Sir ko do crore invest karna hai … Sir keh rahe hai hum yearly bhi kar lenge or hum waise bhi kar lenge (He wants to open three accounts and Sir [referring to the reporter] wants to invest Rs. 2 crore … he is saying we can do it yearly or we can do it some other way).”

We realize the Rs. 2 crore figure has come from the assumption of multiple investments of Rs. 80 lakh.

Sinha tells her to open an account for us first.

But we need to know a specific scheme into which the money is invested.

Things start moving really fast from here, as Arora starts explaining the HDFC Crest plan which could fetch us really good returns.

We ask if returns would be available by cheque, sans TDS.

She confirms: “Haan haan cheque se ayega (Yes, it will come by cheques).” And it will be tax free.

In other words, our money invested thus and the returns on it would be converted into white.
We tell them we would like to invest in three of these policies.
Arora is excited to ask: “Kitne kitne amount tak karna hai (Up to what amount do you want to do)?”
We tell her we want to invest Rs. 10 lakh every year for now, and the amount may go up later.
We want to clear up the tax issues. Would transactions in our accounts be reported to the taxman? Would this investment get linked to our other bank accounts and be reported to Income Tax Department?
Sinha assures us: “Yeh humari guarantee hai koi reporting nahi jayegi (This is our guarantee that it will not be reported).”
Arora adds: “Sir jo bhi reportings hoti hai na … wo humare branch head par hoti hai … ki hum kisko report karna chahte hain kisko nahin karna chahte (Sir, whatever reporting happens, it depends on our branch head … he decides which to report and which not to report).”
That means the Income Tax people will not know about the existence of our black money, we surmise, and it will be converted into white.
Sinha assures: “White ho jayega … bus wo keh raha hoon white ho jayega (It will become white … I am telling you it will become white).”
We repeat that around Rs. 7-8 crore more is expected in March, in cash.
Sinha is ready to take charge of all that unaccounted cash: “Sir humare yahan accounts khulwa dijiye … humare yahan saare funds rakhiye … koi dikkat nahin hai (Sir, open your accounts with us … put all your funds there … there is no problem with that).”
Again Arora adds: “Sir aap cash rakhiye usmein (Sir, you keep the cash in there).”
Would you route all our money into proposed investment schemes through the accounts?
Sinha suggests us to open two different kinds of accounts: “Do account khulwao … ek current account khulwa do … ek savings account … aaram se route karo koi dikkat nahin hai (Open two accounts … one current and one savings … route [your money] through them without hassle … there is no problem).”
He goes on to explain it with one example: “Individual name se maan lijiye aapka naam Manish hai … Manish ke naam se current account … Manish ke naam se savings account khulwa lo … aaram se route karo … koi dikkat nahin hai … 8 lakh se kum ki transaction daily ke hisaab se karo … koi dikkat nahi hai (Let’s say your name is Manish … open a current account and a savings account in the name of Manish … route [the money through them] with ease …. there is no problem … keep the daily transaction less than Rs. 8 lakh … there is no problem).”
But where do we stash the Rs. 7–8 crore cash? Can Sinha provide us with lockers?
Sinha would provide as many lockers as we want: “Sir main aapko bata deta hoon … upfront bata deta hoon … main aapko do April ko locker de doonga … ek nahin do nahin chaar nahin paanch nahin jitne marzi locker rakho le lo (Sir, I am telling you upfront … I will give you lockers on April 2 … not one, two, four or five but as many as you want, take them all).”
Would it be spacious enough to accommodate Rs. 7–8 crore in bills of 500? “Saare aa jayenge aap jo marzi le lo … bus aap khaate khulwa lo Sir … khaate mein mota mota rakh do (All the cash will fit in … take whatever you want … just open an account Sir … put some hefty amount in it).”
This should not be disclosed anywhere, implores our reporter.
Sinha assures us that nothing would be revealed anywhere, and would also get all the cash counted by machine at his bank.
Till now Sinha and Arora have been fulfilling all our wishes.
We now ask if the accounts could be opened without PAN card.
Sinha says: “Main ek baar dekh leta hoon Sir … ID proof kuch toh dijiyega na (Let me check Sir … won’t you give your ID proof at least).”
We instead offer to submit a copy of our passport, and Sinha is satisfied.
Now, the last of our wish list. The minister’s wife frequently goes to England. She wants to transfer some of the crores to be kept in the lockers to some of her relatives there.
Says Sinha with nonchalance: “Ho jayega …. yahin se ho jayega (Will be done … it will be done here itself).”
As we talk of setting up a meeting with the minister, Arora asks: “PAN … toh de denge na (You will give PAN)?”
Sinha interrupts: “Nahin … passport denge (No, he will give the passport) … if it is happening through the account and the DD is made…”
Sinha tells Arora that even for opening the account using our passport would suffice as an ID proof, since the client is reluctant to give PAN card.

With this we get to know how our money would be routed into investment through DD.
We part happily.

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