ICICI BANK, CASE 12: L. M. RAO, BRANCH MANAGER; GANESH, INVESTMENT MANAGER, HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH
OPERATION RED SPIDER, PART- 1

ICICI BANK, CASE 12: L. M. RAO, BRANCH MANAGER; GANESH, INVESTMENT MANAGER, HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH

cobrapost |
July 26, 2011

ICICI BANK, CASE 12: L. M. RAO, BRANCH MANAGER; GANESH, INVESTMENT MANAGER, HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH


“Cash kab dega sir humko?…Kal subah aake hum collect kar sakte hain (When will you give us the cash, Sir … We can come and collect it the next morning)” – L. M. Rao

At this branch of ICICI Bank in Hyderabad, the Cobrapost reporter, posing as a relative of a politician, first met Ganesh, an investment manager with the bank. A minister wants to invest Rs. 50 lakh cash in some long-term plan, which yields handsome returns without any tax deduction. Ganesh suggested GSIP, an insurance plan of ICICI Prudential, in which his visitor could invest Rs. 10 lakh every year for 7 years with a guaranteed return of Rs. 1.75 crore after 15 years. There will be a life cover 10 times the premium paid, ‘by default.’ Is it 100 percent safe? Replies Ganesh: “100 per cent is secure here.”

But since he won’t be able to give his PAN card, won’t it create problems with the Income Tax Department later? He was investing in cash to make the money white. After some initial hesitation, Ganesh replies: “Kuchh problem nahi, Sir …dus lakh … kuchh bhi problem nahin (No problem Sir, up to Rs. 10 lakh there is no problem).”

Overhearing the negotiations, Babu, another banker with the branch, joins in to assure the visitor that up to Rs. 10 lakh presented no problem. At the visitor’s request, they take him to meet Branch Manager L. M.Rao. After an introduction, Ganesh does all the talking: “Sir, we have two options Sir … like … you have given a cash, you deposit it into the particular branch … I mean … there is a processing matter … you give cash … for that they will ask the PAN number … I mean PAN card mange toh … but it won’t be any problem. I assure that. I used to pay …one of the customers … he sold a property … in Chennai … he paid 20 lakh straightaway …they are taking the PAN … ID proof.” What he meant to say is that the PAN card was going to serve only as an ID proof.

But the reporter does not want to show it. No problem, says M. Rao: “It will not link through that account.” Adds Ganesh: “Account mein link nahin rehta … kuchh bhi problem nahin aata …that’s why I am giving example to you …you sold a property … he sold a property … he got around 6 crore … 6 crore … he invested 2 lakh main FD mein kiya … 20 lakh main …” Interjected L.M. Rao: “He has invested 50 lakh.”

Won’t the Income Tax Department cause some trouble at a later stage? Rao says: “No … nothing … because this … we are not linking through account. We are directly depositing as investment.”

Please don’t discuss it with anybody, requests the journalist. It is imperative that the minister’s name is kept out of this entire affair. The branch manager promises absolute anonymity: “100 per cent… we are not supposed to discuss any name or anything with any other person … we follow that.” The returns will be tax-free under Section 10-10(D), M. Rao informs the visitor.
The main purpose is to convert the money into white, get good returns and insurance cover. Ganesh nods in agreement: “Haan … mil jayega Sir (Yes … you will get).” He adds that other politicians also invest with their bank using frontmen.

Satisfied, the reporter asks if the branch manager would come to meet the minister’s wife in the evening or would like to send someone more senior? Rao says: “Hum aa jayenge (We will come). Cash kab dega Sir humko?…Kal subah aake hum collect kar sakte hain (When will you give us the cash, Sir … We can collect it the next morning).”

Could an NRI account be opened with their bank to transfer money to Jordan? Although M. Rao expresses his inability to help with this, his subordinate Babu has this to say: “Uska kuchh tie-ups hota hai … aap CA se baat kar sakte hain … bank ka bhi accounts hota hai … kuchh aapko chahiye toh (It is done through tie-ups … you can discuss it with your CA … banks have some accounts … if you need something).” M. Rao says: “Account open kar sakte hain… but as per the regulation 5 crore per annum can be possible … but subjected to a lot of documentation.”


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