We noticed that there is no uniformity amongst banks when it comes to customer verification. This makes is easier to target some banks to launder money, and then sell the gold later to someone else
Yesterday, we had pointed out that banks, allowed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to sell gold, is a bad deal for customers. Banks make it easy for customers to walk into a bank and buy gold with minimal or no documentation. We visited the website of some of the top banks—Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Andhra Bank, HDFC Bank and State Bank of India—and found out that it is fairly easy for someone to launder money by buying gold coins from banks and selling them elsewhere. Not only did we find out this, but even the rates at which banks were offering were on the higher end. For instance, a 2gm of gold coin from Bank of Baroda costs Rs5,860 as of 30 May. The same thing from a jeweller costs Rs5,028.
The following table shows the gold coin rates offered by various banks. As you can see that the denomination offered by the banks varies. Some banks offer 2 gm while some offer 100 gms. The rates also vary from bank to bank. For instance, Corporation Bank’s 100 gm gold coin costs Rs2,75,636 while Kotak Mahindra Bank is pricier by over Rs25,000! Similarly, for 2gm, the range is as much as Rs422 between the highest and lowest offers. State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda offer identical rates for 2gm. According to a jeweller source, as of 30 May, the price of 2gm of gold stood at Rs2,514 per gram. This is far more competitive than what the banks are offering.
KYC and Documentation
We visited the website of the following banks and obtained information on how easy it is to procure gold coins. The table below shows the restrictions and document required in order to buy gold coins.
For instance, you could walk into Andhra Bank and fork over cash to buy gold coins worth Rs20,000 without documentation. However, Axis Bank only offers gold to its customers. Anybody can walk into ICICI Bank and buy Rs50,000 worth of gold coins, but must require a cheque as the bank does not accept cash. Anything over Rs50,000, complete KYC is mandatory.
We also noticed that there is no uniformity amongst banks when it comes to customer verification. This makes is easier to target some banks to launder money, and then sell the gold later to someone else. RBI does not permit banks to buy back gold. Some banks use KYC while some accept PAN cards and that too at different values. For instance, Axis Bank requires just an identity proof for gold coins between Rs20,000 and Rs50,000 and a PAN card for over Rs50,000. But Andhra Bank requires complete KYC for gold coins over Rs50,000. Strangely, SBI does not require any proof for transactions less than Rs50,000.
Only ICICI Bank, amongst the five banks mentioned above, has mentioned on its website of the limit to the number of times one can buy gold coins. One can buy six times every four months and up to Rs1 lakh per transaction (for self) and Rs50,000 on behalf of others. Other banks it is not mentioned.
One thing common for most of these banks that an application form must be filled up while buying gold coins. Yet, this serves little purpose for those purchases that do not require documentation.
According to the consumer society, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam is charging more from consumers by showing additional T&D losses
Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education Research Society (CERS) said as per its study the state owned Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL) has been charging more money from customers by showing higher losses in transmission and distribution (T&D). According to CERS, GUVNL is adopting faulty practices in considering high T&D losses for calculation of fuel price and power purchase agreement (FPPPA) charges.
CERS said its study shows the average T&D losses across the country are 26.4%, which cuts generation capacity by 28,000 million units (MUs). Using the Rajadhaksha Committee report, if the losses are reduced to 14%, then the losses can be brought down to 14,800 MUs. The saving of 13,200 MUs would generate additional revenues of Rs3,960 crore.
“The Gujarat situation is not different where T&D losses are 22.67%. Gujarat loses nearly 14,600 MUs every year, which compels GUVNL to purchase costly power from independent power producers. This puts heavy burden on consumers in Gujarat. If these losses are reduced to 14%, then GUVNL can save nearly 6,140 MUs, which will generate additional income of Rs1,854 crore. This in turn can help avoid increase in tariff at least for couple of years,” the CERS said in a release.
Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) in its tariff orders on 2 April 2013 had praised electricity distribution companies (discoms) in the state for bringing down distribution losses below the target set by the Commission. However, CERS pointed out that how only Uttar Gujarat Vij Company (UGVCL) can bring down these losses by 4%-5% in just one year.
In its order, GERC has considered following distribution losses...
Uttar Gujarat Vij Company (UGVCL) 9.81 %
Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company (DGVCL) 10.24 %
Madhya Gujarat Vij Company (MGVCL) 12.18 %
Paschim Gujarat Vij Company (PGVCL) 27.87 %
Average 15.03 %
Therefore, as per CERS the actual calculation for T&D losses should be
Transmission Losses of GETCO 4.30%
Distribution losses of four DISCOM 15.03%
Actual T&D losses 19.33%
CERS said from the above it is proved that GUVNL is misleading the Commission and consumers from the state by showing high T&D losses.
T&D losses as per GUVNL for FPPPA 22.67 %
T&D losses as per GERC order & CERS 19.33 %
Difference in T&D losses 3.34%
It said, the above calculations shows how GUVNL is collecting additional amount as FPPPA charges by showing 3.34% additional loss for T&D.
“It is shocking to know that how GERC can approve higher T&D losses for calculation of FPPPA charges by which GUVNL has collected Rs668 crore more every year from consumers of Gujarat. GERC should direct GUVNL to refund additional FPPPA charges collected, which may be more than Rs3,000 crore in last five years,” the CERS said.
In a letter to GERC, KK Bajaj, chief general manager of CERS and an expert in power sector has requested third party scrutiny to ascertain correct and actual T&D losses and impose penalty as per Section 142 of Electricity Act, 2003 for providing wrong and misleading details to GERC thereby illegally collecting more money from consumers of Gujarat.
According to a report by the Expert Appraisal Committee under the MoEF, the petroleum major has also to get the Environmental Impact Assessment report and Environment Management Plan for the 9 MMTPA (million metric tonnes per annum) Complex
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has asked state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) to hold a public hearing for its proposed Rs37,230 crore refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer district of Rajasthan.
According to a report by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the MoEF, the petroleum major has also to get the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report and Environment Management Plan (EMP) for the 9 MMTPA (million metric tonnes per annum) Complex.
The EAC also said the draft EIA/EMP report should be submitted to Rajasthan Pollution Control Board before the public hearing.
“The draft EIA/EMP report should be submitted to the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board for conducting public hearing/consultation. The issues emerged and response to the issues raised during public hearing should be incorporated in the EIA/EMP report and submitted to the Ministry for obtaining environmental clearance,” the EAC said in its report made public recently.
HPCL had approached the MoEF for environmental clearance and the proposal was reviewed by the EAC last month.
The project will be set up as a joint venture between HPCL, Rajasthan State Refinery and other equity partners.
“Issues raised in the public hearing and commitments made by the project proponent on the same should be included separately in EIA/EMP Report with financial budget for complying with the commitments made,” the EAC further said.
According to the details submitted to the ministry, the plot area for the project will be 3,866 acres and 50% of the crude requirement would be sourced from Rajasthan and balance from Persian Gulf. A 210 MW gas-based power plant will also be set up for captive use.
The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex is designed to produce motor fuels with latest environmental specifications and wide range of petrochemicals.
The mega project is expected to take about 4 years to go on stream after getting necessary approvals.