Oriental Bank of Commerce, Case 1: S. Vats, Manager, South Delhi

Vats treads cautiously when it comes to black money conversion. Although she doesn’t know much she is willing to lend a helping hand. “Nahin yahan se kuch nahin disclose hota (No, nothing is disclosed from here),” she assures.

Casually walking into this branch of Oriental Bank of Commerce in one of the toniest business centres of South Delhi in the national capital, the Cobrapost journalist gets to meet Manager S. Vats. Preliminaries over, our reporter comes straight to the purpose of his visit: A politician wants to invest a handsome amount of money his wife’s name. There should be no TDS. We are more interested in insurance.

Vats ponders a bit and recommends fixed deposits. We tell her we are not interested in FDs or other deposits as the amount is big, around Rs. 70 lakh.

Vats responds quickly: “Nahin alag alag naam se banwaoongi mai (No, I will make it in different names).”

Our reporter tells her we will buy the policy for three people: me, my wife and the minister’s wife.

Vats gives us a list of documents required, including PAN card, for investment in some insurance product.

But won’t there be a problem for us if we submit our PAN card, our reporter raises concern, which is natural, for it might link our dealings with other banks.

Vats assures that a bank account is not linked to any other bank. “Nahin aisa nahin hota …wo toh bank ka jo hota hai na ki ek hi ID se chaar paanch account khule hain to hota hai (No, that doesn’t happen … when four or five accounts are opened using one ID only then are the accounts with other banks linked).”

So, we can open four or five accounts in the minister’s wife’s name, says the reporter.

Vats warns us to suggest some other way: “Nahin madam ke naam se nahin …jaise bache hai husband hai koi aur mother hai (No not in the name of madam … for example, in children’s names … husband’s name … mother’s name).”

So we ask her if the PAN card details are disclosed. “Nahin yahan se kuch nahin disclose hota (No, nothing is disclosed from here),” she assures.

We have around Rs. 60–70 lakh for immediate investment. More money, about Rs. 5–7 crore is expected soon. It is all in cash.

Vats inquires: “Saara cash hai (It’s all in cash)?”

Yes, all in cash, we tell her. We want a plan where our black money will become white. She suggests: “To wo bhi alag alag naam se karwa lena aap…wo bhi karwa lena (So get that in different names…get that too).”

Vats doesn’t know much about the insurance plan and the marketing girl who sells insurance is on leave. She, therefore, insists on opening a savings account to start an investment: “Ye savings account khulwa lo aap… kyunki uske liye savings must hai … uske baad apna deposit kar dena … agar PAN number hai to koi dikkat nahin hai … kitne bhi aap jama karwa sakte ho … matlab paanch lakh char lakh karke aap jama karwa dena (Open a savings account, because for this [investment] it is must … then deposit your money in it … if you have PAN number then there is no problem … you can deposit as much as you want … I mean Rs. 5 lakh, Rs. 4 lakh you can deposit).”

She adds we should also open a recurring deposit in which there is no TDS and we can deposit Rs. 50,000 every month.

Vats seems inexperienced in handling the black money but she doesn’t give up. She tries to sell us personal savings, recurring deposits and other similar accounts, to put in our black money.

She suggests that for bigger amount we can open fixed deposits where there will be no TDS and good returns.

Now, we ask her about lockers where we can park Rs. 5–7 crore in bills of 500. Is there a big locker where we can stash this money?

Vats says her bank has only mid-size lockers. Most of the times lockers are not available, but she would provide us whatever numbers of lockers are available and then she goes on advising:

“Alag alag naam se lene padenge na (You will have to take it [locker] in different names).”

We also ask her if Vats can provide us a machine for counting the money.

She strikes a note of caution: “Pehle ek time mein zyada nahin lana aap (Don’t bring too much money at once).”

We assure her we would bring only Rs. 2–3 crore cash, not more than that.

At this point, Vats fears a huge transaction would get highlighted. So to be cautious, she asks us to do some transaction by cheque as well: “Lekin saari cash transaction nahi hai … thodi si cheque hai na (But hope all transaction is not going to be in cash … some will be in cheque).” She adds: “Humko bhi to genuine lage na … kyunki humare bhi toh … aage humko bhi to dekhte hai na (It should look genuine to us also … because we too have [to report it to seniors] … they also keep us an eye on what we do).”

Although she is ready to help us convert our black money into white but when we ask her to transfer Rs. 30–40 lakh of this black money to England through hawala, she refuses outright.

She warns us again: “Aisa hawala ka banks mein nahin chalta … naam bhi nahin lena … nahin ji nahin ji aisa koi kaam nahin hai humara (Hawala doesn’t happen in banks … don’t even mention is ever … this is not what we do).”

Vats advises us to discuss it with her senior but her boss is not in the office at the moment.

She says she will inform her senior manager and call us later for taking the deal further. Our reporter bids farewell and walks out of the bank.

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