Cards: Banks May Lower Interest on Credit Card Dues
Banks may lower the interest charges on credit card outstandings. Customers often have to fork out hefty amounts for failing to pay on time. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said, in a report, that interest rates charged on credit card overdue were inordinately high and not aligned with products of similar risk profiles.
 
“There should be reasonableness of such charges. Banks to revisit the charges levied to ensure reasonableness, fairness and transparency in pricing. IBA to issue detailed operational guidelines to banks in this regard,” said RBI, in the Annual Report on Banking Ombudsman 2013-14.

User

Other Insurance: New India Assurance Directed To Pay Nearly Rs30 Lakh
A local court in Tiruvarur district (Tamil Nadu) directed New India Assurance Company to pay Rs29,61,950 to an LIC agent, who lost his leg in an accident in 2013 at Semmangudi.
 
Sivaprakasam (24) submitted that he was riding his two-wheeler on 14 August 2013, when it was hit by a van; the accident resulted in amputation of his left leg. He filed a case against the vehicle-owner and New India Assurance Company claiming Rs30 lakh as compensation. 

User

Corporate Espionage and Worse: All Too Common
The recent Delhi case does not even scratch the surface of this menace which has been going on for decades
 
Over 25 people have been arrested at the time of going to print, in what is known as the ‘espionage’ scandal at the petroleum ministry. The scandal has rapidly engulfed the coal, power and the environment ministries as well. Yet, the only ones surprised at the extent of the leaks, and sale of confidential government information, are probably those who believe that their morning paper or prime time television actually gives them all the news that is fit to print or debate! Or, that regulators and investigation agencies spring into action due on media exposé. 
 
Everybody else, who is connected with the media, business or government interaction, knows that far worse happens in government—with impunity and arrogance. And the sporadic investigations and arrests over the years have been mere blips with high drama that did not lead to any concrete action. From the Adarsh building scam, to Coalgate, 2G and Sahara, only court-directed hearings and judgements have actually led to some serious action—like cancellation of licences. In fact, there are hardly any surprises in the names of companies that have cropped up for getting systematic access to documents through forgery, impersonation and creation of fake identities.
 
 
Any action to stem the organised leak of official secrets and confidential documents is commendable. It acts as a strong deterrent and leads to a temporary clean-up. In this case, there was a large gang of operators involved in stealing, copying and selling documents; some had a neat façade of websites, research outfits, conference and think-tanks. However, let’s not kid ourselves; this has been going on for decades. Also, the government has not, yet, attacked the biggest source of leaks which are connected with defence-related purchases and contracts. 
 
Delhi’s arms-dealers and middlemen are all extremely well-known. They flash their stupendous and unexplained wealth without any fear. Subrata Roy, of the Sahara group, also did it with impunity and nobody questioned his geyser of money until the Supreme Court of India dealt with his lofty disregard for the law and courts very effectively. As with Sahara, India’s top politicians, celebrities and corporate czars are happy to be on the same social page as such pimps. They are mandatory guests at the lavish parties and extravagant weddings. Notice how little has changed after the famous exposé of defence deals by the now discredited Tehelka. 
 
The leak of government documents marked ‘top secret’ or ‘confidential’ purchased by corporate houses is so routine that most business journalists, don’t even give a thought to the violation of Official Secrets Act—especially when they have travelled down to Mumbai. A few of us have found such documents slipped under our door in unmarked brown covers. 
 
Some of the worst stories of corporate venality and sharp manipulation that I have heard in the past two decades have been told to me by regulators, most of whom were IAS officers. I have also discovered that most senior bureaucrats and investigators will either remain mute spectators or actively support corrupt actions of their political masters, even if it involves unleashing untold harassment or framing false charges against people. None of this could be written about.
 
A few of my own experiences will probably explain why one remains cynical about whether the arrests in the alleged ‘espionage’ scandal will lead to any change at all. 
 

E-Stamping Scam

The biggest story buried in 2007, by a newspaper that boasted about its journalistic ‘courage’, is that of Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL). It was a case of the daylight robbery of SHCIL, a quasi-government company (set up by government-owned financial institutions), by its managing director and CEO.  SHCIL, under the benign watch of regulators, created a subsidiary which was a mirror image of the parent and was selling off a 76% stake to private and foreign entities who would, eventually, have controlled the entire e-stamping operation in India. The core of the business, e-stamping software contract to a Singapore-based company called Crimson Logic, was routed through layers of private entities, owned by two individuals who ran SHCIL like a private fiefdom and were very close friends of the then chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). 
 
Remember, e-stamping was being introduced as an alternative to physical stamps after another mega scandal, called the Thelgi scam in the late 1990s. In effect, a new scam was being perpetrated at the very initiation of a system that was touted as a clean and transparent replacement for the easy-to-forge physical revenue stamps and stamp paper business of over Rs50,000 crore! The matter was investigated by the Intelligence Bureau and brought to the attention of the prime minister. But nothing much happened. After all, those involved in burying the scandal included a retired police chief, a powerful cabinet minister and the capital market regulator. 
 
The only ones who paid a price for persistently trying to expose the scam, for over a year, were the whistleblower and I. Those interested can read the entire story on our website (Loot & Scoot). Nothing has happened to SHCIL or most officials involved in this and other scams dating back to Ketan Parekh’s market manipulations in 2000. 
 

Sahara Scam

Several years before SEBI began to investigate Sahara Pariwar, a market regulator told me in great detail how the group allegedly created fictitious investors. At that time, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had already been investigating Sahara’s massive fund-raising through the residuary non-banking finance company. Why the regulators did not find anything substantive, when they knew so much, is no mystery. Given Mr Roy’s powerful connections, the strings pulled probably went all the way to the top. 
 

Other Tricks

An industrialist gleefully told  me how a rival industrialist did not believe in wasteful expenditure of bribing ministers and bureaucrats. He operated at the level of secretaries and typists, with deadly effect. He would ensure that small errors were inserted in the final draft of rules or legislation creating a loophole for him to exploit in dubious deals. 
 
A bureaucrat in the finance ministry, who later became a regulator, narrated a similar experience, where the legal head of a corporate house tried to influence the wording of a government circular by quoting a Section and Sub-section of a highly rated classic text on banking legislation. He even handed over a copy of his book for the bureaucrat to verify the relevant Section. Although almost convinced, the bureaucrat, quite by chance, asked to see his office copy of the book. To his shock, the wording of the Section was entirely different. It then became clear that the lobbyist was trying to trick our babu, with a cleverly forged page, inserted into a classic reference book!
 
I have seen this game played out in the framing SEBI’s takeover and acquisition code in the mid-1990s. A powerful and articulate member of the committee, which had drafted the code, had left a gaping loophole. He, later, exploited this very loophole for a high-profile merger between two giant blue-chip companies, to the detriment of retail investors. Since the corporate houses were powerful and influential, all my articles pointing to the mischief were simply ignored. 
 
I have narrated small examples from Mumbai. Bribes and espionage involved in defence or to grab natural resources like oil and mines are much more heinous. Let’s hope the Modi government does not stop at a few headline-grabbing arrests but puts in place a system of transparent decision-making, televised hearings of parliamentary committees and e-auctions. This will ensure a permanent clean-up and also fulfil the election promise of better governance. 
 

User

COMMENTS

KAVIRAJ B PATIL

2 years ago

In India, it is clear that only the shady survive and prosper. The supporters of the imprisoned businessman seem mesmerised by his charisma. The last couple of years we have seen the hide and seek game played out till the SC said "Enough is Enough" and the fun and games stopped.

rajivahuja

2 years ago

Thank you.I thought I was living in utopia.

Shri Gopal Soni

2 years ago

Had there been honesty and ethical conduct in Government/Public Sector machinery,no RTI activist would have been harassed,hounded or killed.

Every thinking citizen of India knows in the present context that the big fishes for whose benefit the secrecy was allegedly breached shall never be caught...

https://twitter.com/revribhav

integrity

2 years ago

one of most amusing thing that Sahara had done and which have been forgotten now is that the excuse that they gave to SEBI for not providing the information was that the Officials (sahara's )were on vacation with that being summer season. ( the court wondered if they were running a kindergarten

REPLY

integrity

In Reply to integrity 2 years ago

Also they did not provide information about their employees to EPFO without court intervention, citing their manual mode of maintaining employee's records.

jacob.t

2 years ago

Guess journalism is about writing anything about any one. It is not about truth or lie nowadays. Just write up something and then publish it.

thomas

2 years ago

Sahara issue is something that has not received any final judgement as yet. So how can any one blindly blame them so that too in public.

REPLY

edward

In Reply to thomas 2 years ago

yes.. tat is what I was also thinking.. The SC court of India has not yet declared them guilty, and people are going around making them...

PRAKASH D N

2 years ago

Change can happen only when the the Hon'ble Prime Minister is determined to cleanse the system. Modiji's Digital India should start with Bureaucracy which follows the medieval system given by the British. Make Government machinery transparent and accountable to people. Leverage technology in day-to-day working of Government Depts with necessary security walls in the system.

Present effort should not stop with arrest of a few lower level officials. The "Goldfingers" behind these espionage has to be caught. Will the new Government show its resolve? Let us wait and see.

D. N. PRAKASH, MANGALORE

kelvin

2 years ago

Wow, so much comments. I think, its not just me who felt Sahara's name has being dragged here unnecessarily.Hope now at least the writer gets that it is not professional to give preference to personal opinions.

Sulekha Sharma

2 years ago

That doesn't make much sense at all. I might say it's been a year now I think so and people are still pointing finger. We already know all the details so, why sudden this article came up. There is not much to say the same thing again and again.
There will be always some people who care for Sahara, truly I am one of them. And in truth, I get that you have something to say but you should be careful about whom you involve in the article and whom should not. Hope next time you mind that, and keep writing.

rampli

2 years ago

With all due respect, I would like to say that, as far as I know Sahara case is still in court and I don't think Indian SC have declared Sahara guilty of anything. So I think its better not to simply use Sahara's name here and there.

Sneha Sharma

2 years ago

Same old crap all over again. You people do publish crap like this always. Choose your words correctly and make some efforts next time. So people who really came here to read something can find something good.

anu

2 years ago

The writer of this article sucheta dalal has really put efforts to create this. But putting this sort of erroneous data about Sahara was not a good idea.By doing so you have made this entire article worthless. Try to be more professional next time than being personal like this.

riyanshi bhonsle

2 years ago

i would like to ask all our media persons to kindly leave Mr. Roy alone.
Koi chain se jeene do bande ko yar.

naman

2 years ago


There is no logic to nnecessarily blame sahara. How could you drag the well reputed company of India wherever you want.

Mayank Khanna

2 years ago

Leave it guys. It wont affact much.

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)