cobrapost |
April 27, 2013


Punjab National Bank , Case 3, S.K. Setia, Chief Manager, South Delhi

The suave and soft-spoken banker would not ask about the source of huge cash proposed to be invested. He is willing to help invest black money without PAN

After finding a senior banker at this branch of Punjab National Bank of not much help, the Cobrapost reporter goes to see Chief Manager S.K. Setia. He tells him a known minister wants to invest Rs. 50 lakh in some long-term instrument without any TDS. The money has to be invested in three names: the minister’s wife, the man representing him and his wife. FDs are a no as they attract tax. What if we invested in insurance?

An understanding Setia promptly suggests to go for some insurance products of MetLife and tells our reporter he would ask the person concerned to speak to him. In the course of conversation our reporter tells Setia that what he is looking for is something safe and the “kache ka paisa” is made white.

Setia has no qualms about reassuring the same: “Toh main us angle se hi karata hoon jo bhi product hai (Then, I will do it with that angle whatever the product is).”

That would be really nice.

What we want is a guarantee on the safety of our money, our reporter tells him, and then asks if the cash would be routed through the account or would be invested directly.

Returns Setia: “Cheque lenge … account ke through hi hoga (Will take a cheque … it will be through the account only).”

The problem is we have only cash, says the reporter. That is why we knocked at your door.
Replies Setia not sure if he could help us: “Cash toh pata nahin lete hain … main pooch leta hoon (Don’t know if they accept cash … let me check it with them).” While Setia is trying to contact the insurance advisor on phone, our reporter asks if a big locker would be available for us in March. Setia is willing to help: “Bada … toh main availability dekh leta hoon (A big one … then let me check the availability).” He immediately checks with his staff. Yes, there is big locker available, he informs turning to our reporter, and you will have to open an account.
Go ahead, tells our reporter, open three accounts: in the name of the minister’s wife, his wife and himself. Why don’t you come along with some of your colleague in the evening to the minister’s residence and complete the formalities then and there. Let me check the minister’s availability and I will inform you on phone.

An agreeable Setia asks one of his subordinates to bring in some forms for opening savings accounts. He then says: “Form aapko de doonga abhi … aap usko rakh lo … sign wine karwa lena … bhar hum denge aapke saath baith ke wahan kahoge wahan … yahan kahoge yahan (I will give you the forms … you keep them … get them signed … I will fill the forms sitting with you there itself or here wherever you wish).”

That’s fine with us. The minister is expecting Rs. 5–7 crore in March, from a deal in Greater Noida, says the reporter. The idea is to keep the cash in your bank and then invest it in whatever mode is possible, maybe in tranches.

Nodding his head in agreement, Setia says: “Theek hai (Alright).”

In the course of conversation that ensues, Setia seeks the address of the minister showing his eagerness to meet the minister and take the deal forward. However, reporter suggest it will be premature to give him the address, as huge cash is lying there, and you know what can happen then. Setia understands the point and doesn’t press.

Telling the senior banker that it is not advisable to approach the private banks for such delicate matters, he asks the manager if the bank would make a machine available to count Rs. 5–7 crore of cash in bills of 500.

Setia promptly asks: “Account mein daalenge saara (Will you put all that in the account).”
No Sir! That will be problematic for us. We will keep the cash in the lockers, says the reporter.
Setia is not averse to the idea: “Locker mein rakhoge … locker mein kitna … hazaar ke hi ayenge … locker mein jitna ayega utna hi dalega (You will keep it in locker … how much a locker … bills 1000 will be accommodated … whatever the locker can contain only that much can be kept).”

We understand that, says the reporter, the rest of the money we will distribute in all three savings accounts.

Setia asks: “Teen alag alag kholne hain account (You want to open three separate accounts)?”
You get it right. Why don’t you send some dependable fellow over to us, says the reporter.
Setia is prompt to reply: “Wo toh main hi aoonga (I myself will come).”

Such deals should never left to others, we know!

Setia wants to proceed with the formalities of account opening and tells the reporter about the documents required, including PAN.

Oh no! It would be like throwing a spanner in the works, laments our reporter, if we submit the incriminating PAN card. Then there is fear of our accounts being linked to other accounts where cash is lying and the information might be disclosed. Our reporter has a litany of complaints.

Setia tries to pacify our reporter: “Isse kya matlab …ye toh yahan ka account khulega (What it has to do with it … this account will open with us).”

Won’t this information be disclosed then, asks our reporter?

Setia reassures: “Doosre bank mein to nahin jayegi (It won’t go to other banks).”

Maybe it will be sent to others, insists our inquisitive reporter.

Understanding the point, Setia says: “Dekho ye toh taxwala hi aapko bata sakta hai … yahan savings mein toh koi TDS hota nahin … FDs mein TDS hota hai (See, only a taxman can guide you on it … here in savings there is no TDS … there is TDS in FDs).”

You are right, tells our reporter. We are not going for FDs as we will have to show it in our books. This is the last thing we would want.

Concurs Setia: “Haan … usse pata lag sakta hai ki itna TDS … (Yes … it can let it out how this much TDS …).”

That is the point. Now, both parties get down to discussing the formality of account opening.
If you could do it without PAN card, says our reporter, then nothing like it.

Says a willing Setia: “Without PAN … baaki ID proof toh chahiye (then we need an ID proof).”
We will give you passport, driving license, whatever it takes, tells the reporter.

Setia would keep it minimum: “Siraf … passport bhi chalega … siraf passport … aur ek photo … aur ek undertaking aapka lenge …. yahan pe agar PAN nahin hai (Only … passport will do … only passport … and a photograph … and we will take an undertaking from you … if you don’t have a PAN here).” It is like sweet music to our ears!

Marking the places on the form where the account holder-to-be will have to sign, Setia tells the reporter to give the names of the nominees in the forms and if they are minor then someone like mother.

While Setia is busy marking the places in the forms, continuously conversing with the reporter in between, our reporter comes up with another important proposition to confirm whether money laundering in all shapes and forms was possible with the help of Setia and his bank.

The minister’s wife often goes to England, he tells the manager. Would it be possible to send some of the crores to some of her relatives there?

Replies Setia thinking for a moment: “Uske liye toh khate ke through hi jayega … cash nahin jaata (That will go only through account … cash can’t be sent).”

That is fine, says the reporter. We will take the cash from the bank locker in chunks and then deposit it into the accounts from where you can send it abroad.

Setia’s branch doesn’t have this facility but it can be done through other branch and he will help. Says Setia: “Wo humari Connaught Place mein branch hai wahan … wahan ek baar jaana padega … wo toh hum letter bana ke denge aapko … letter bana ke denge … unke wahan ke account mein paisa daal denge … letter bana ke de denge … wahan ek do paper formality hai wo karenge … wo bhej denge (Our Connaught Place branch deals with that … you will have to go there once … we will make a letter for you … will make a letter for you … you will deposit the money in their account there … will make a letter for you … they will do some paper formality there … then they will send it).”

We never knew sending money would be that easy. Please get it done for us, says our reporter.

Setia reassures on this count: “Wo main kara doonga … lekin usmein thoda jo bhi niyam koi na aade na aa jaayein bus … wo check kar lenge (I will get that done … but I am afraid there might be some rules to cause hindrance … will check it).” What Setia suggests is that overseas money transfer might be governed by certain rules but he is still willing to lend help.

We can only keep our fingers crossed.

Before taking his leave, the reporter asks him to come to meet the minister the next evening. But Setia is not available. He says he will send his subordinate Bhandari, instead, and tries to contact the fellow on phone.

Our reporter is panicked at the idea of sharing the deal with somebody else and seeks the assurance from the banker that the fellow should be trustworthy. In no way should the information about the investment be disclosed. The minister has a name. It will cause a problem, otherwise.

Swearing to secrecy, Setia says: “Don’t worry … nahin nahin kahin nahin jayegi … yahan se toh koi information kisi ko jaati nahin (No, no, it will not be disclosed … we don’t send any information to anybody from here).”

This is exactly what we want, says our reporter, thus reassured. When he gets Bhandari on the other end of the phone, he asks him to come in.

The reporter asks if the bank offers other investment avenues, something like gold. But the option is ruled out when Setia informs that it is mandatory to submit PAN to buy gold.

In the meanwhile, Bhandari has come in. Turning to him Setia asks him what needs to be done in case he is not there when the client requires their help. If need be, visit their Kothi close by.

Setia tells Bhandari: “Zarooart padi toh yahin pe inki kothi hai (If need arises then their kothi is close by).”

You may have to pay a visit, says the reporter.

Setia nods in agreement: “Zaroorat padi toh … ye bina PAN ke substantial amount dena chahte hain (If need arises …they want to invest some substantial amount without PAN).” Handing our reporter the forms duly marked for signatures, he then tells Bhandari to do the needful.

Bhandari happens to be the same official who had disappointed our reporter in their first encounter. He too tells reporter what needs to be done with regard to account opening.

With all the parties satisfied, the meeting thus draws to a close.

On being contacted by Cobrapost reporter for his reaction to the expose, Setia outrightly says that nothing would be done without fulfilling the KYC norms

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