ICICI BANK, CASE 9: R. SHARMA, BRANCH MANAGER, FARIDABAD, HARYANA
OPERATION RED SPIDER, PART- 1

ICICI BANK, CASE 9: R. SHARMA, BRANCH MANAGER, FARIDABAD, HARYANA

cobrapost |
July 26, 2011

ICICI BANK, CASE 9: R. SHARMA, BRANCH MANAGER, FARIDABAD, HARYANA


“We can discuss and figure something out”

It was the inauguration day at this branch of ICICI Bank somewhere in Faridabad. Amid the festive mood our reporter first meets Mohit and tells him why he is there. Sometime later Mohit introduces him to Ratan, who works as investment advisor with the branch. Within the more discreet confines of a cabin, the reporter states the purpose of his visit – the same story essentially. Ratan offers him GSIP and rattles off the benefits. But Ratan is not of much help when it comes to accepting the cash.
However, his Branch Manager R. Sharma comes straight to the point when she is told of the investment of huge cash: “Fund aapka cash ka hai to aap account mein jama karenge na to humein source of fund chihiye … kya hai source of fund (If your fund is in cash then you will have to deposit it in the account. So, we require source of fund for that … What is the source of fund)?”

The money belongs to a minister and he is unlikely to disclose the source of fund, counters the journalist. Sharma thinks for a while and then asks: “Ye kab karna hai aap logko (When do you want to do this)?”

She is curious to know who the politician is: “Mantriji kaun hain naam to bata dijiye…naam mujhe to bata do… main to branch manager hun … bata do fir kuch na kuch hum discuss karke hum log kar lenge na (Who is the minister … tell me the name … tell me the name at least … I am after all the branch manager …tell me, then we can discuss and figure something out).”
To dodge the subject, the journalist informs her that he would need a locker to keep the Rs. 5–7 crore likely to come in soon. Sharma says: “Locker to arrange ho jayega Sir. Koi dikkat nahin hai (Locker can be arranged, Sir. Not a problem).”

Coming back to the topic, she suggests opting for market-linked plan, claiming: “Safety toh hai hi hai, tax-free hai… poora white hokar ayega (It is safe. It is tax-free. It will come to you fully white).”

But has she handled such transactions before? Ritu is reassuring: “Bahut contacts hain humare aisi baat nahin hai…sabke hote hain …bas wohi hai ki hum as a bank hum kuch share na toh karte hain…aapne poocha na hum jante hain, main chahti toh chaar naam le sakti thi…par nahin le sakti hun … aaj pehli baar nahin ho rahi hai main bata rahi hoon aapko (We have a lot of contacts… all do it … as a bank we don’t share anything…you asked if I knew some of them, if I want I could have told you four names but won’t tell… what I am telling you that it is not happening the first time today).”

Sharma explains further: “Saare logon ka funds jo hai … property sell karte hain … aapko pata hi hai aaj kal sab black mein hi milta hai saara paisa, black mein milta hai, property sale proceeds karke letter le lete hain aur kar lete hain deposit kya hai…humein sirf ek letter chihiye hota hai …ki ye fund …is … ka source of fund ye hai … as per the guidelines humare ko audit ke hisaab se ek letter rakhna hota hai (All the funds these people have … they sell properties…you already know these days all the money comes in black, it is paid in black, we get a letter stating it is from property sale proceeds and simply deposit it. We require only a letter that this fund ….this is the source of the fund … as per the guidelines, we have to keep a letter for the sake of the audit).”

On the locker, Sharma hits the nail on the head: “Locker aapko sabse bada hi chahiye hoga (You will obviously need the largest available locker, right)?”

The minister’s wife often visits England. Could some of the crores be transferred overseas some time later? She is willing to help, subject to the guidelines applicable at the time of transferring money: “FEMA aa jata hai usske andar bahar paisa bhejne per (When you send money outside the country, FEMA comes into play).”

Then would we have to provide details as to where the money has come from? She says: “Nahin nahin … wo to account se hi jata hai …paisa toh account se hi jaata hai …lekin usmein ek saal purana account hona chahiye (No, no. That goes only though account … money goes only though account. But for that you should have a year old account).”

But our account is new. No problem, she says: “Nahin hum to paise ko move kar denge jis account mein remit karna hai (No, we will move the money into the account in which it has to be remitted).”

How much can be remitted? Replies Sharma: “Sir, do lakh dollar ki limit hai saal ki … Sir dekho ICICI se main aapko commitment nahin de sakti … outward remittance alag cheez hai … purpose sahi hoga ok hoga nikal jayega … aapko bhejna kis purpose mein hai (Sir, there is a limit of Rs. 2 lakh dollars a year …Sir, you see I can’t give any commitment from ICICI … outward remittance is a different thing … if the purpose is right, is ok … for what purpose you want to send the money)?”

Sharma suggests the visitor should invest about Rs. 50 lakh in gold also, routing money through the account. She says: “Investment aur gold dono ko split karna is best … split karke karna hi better hai (Split the cash in investment and gold is the best … doing it by splitting is better).”
She adds: “Cash mein humne kiya hua hai Sir aisa kuchh nahin hai… humne Sir account se hi debit karke diya hai … lekin account mein NRIs ke cash deposits hote hain because unhone property bechi, black mein paisa aaya, dus–dus lakh unhone deposit karaye hain humse… unhone investment kiya hai, usme koi issue nahin hai…Noida 18 mein main NRI Banking hi dekhti thi…usme property sale proceeds NRIs ki bahut aati thi … paanch paanch crore ki property bikti thi, wo paisa kuch white mein aata tha kuch black mein aata tha. Toh black mein wo cash deposit karte hi the aur usise hum fir investment karte the us account se (We have done transactions in cash in the past Sir, don’t worry … we debit from the account only … But NRIs make cash deposits in their accounts because if they have sold a property, they would get money in black, they would deposit the cash in tranches of 10 lakh through me …they have done investments there… there is no issue in that …I used to look after NRI banking in Noida 18 … there we used to get a number of property sales proceeds from NRIs … property worth 5 crore each used to be sold. That money used to come both in black and in white. So, they would deposit that black money in cash and then we would invest routing it through their accounts).”

Before the meeting is over, she reminds the journalist to inform her after the meeting with the minister has been fixed for the next evening.


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