Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
HSBC loots Suchitra Krishnamoorthi after big promises of 24% returns

This can happen to you—bank customers beware. Lack of financial literacy can cost you big time as reputed banks target the gullible with money to spare. PMS, insurance, loans are pushed by relationship managers to make a killing, at your cost!

HSBC Bank took Ms Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, a well-known singer and actor, for a ride over a five year period by promising an extravagant assured return of 24% from mutual funds as well as insurance. Each time the customer complained about losses in her account, the standard reply was that the relationship manager has been fired and that the bank will make up for the losses with judicious investments. Needless to say, the losses were never made good. The one-way road for the customer was downhill. If a well-known celebrity could be cheated with such impunity, it is surely happening routinely with others.

It is a case of systematic looting and exploitation of emotionally vulnerable who had got Rs3.6 crore as part of a settlement in September 2006. The money was supposed to be the means of livelihood for herself and for her daughter. The bank used confidential information about the hefty deposit in her savings account and began to market its toxic services to her. Since bankers are seen as trustworthy, she believed that her relationship manager was advising her correctly.

The modus operandi for HSBC in this case has been a combination of toxic churning of the portfolio management system (2% entry load on every purchase made by it on behalf of client), insurance products promising 24% returns, insisting her on taking a loan instead of withdrawing funds without even disclosing that the client was entitled for a smart loan.

The end result after five years was Rs83 lakh—direct loss from investment, Rs29 lakh in commission to HSBC, Rs8 lakh (50% of investment) lost from an insurance policy, Rs10 lakh (again, 50% of investment) valuation decline in insurance policy still in force, Rs4.5 lakh tax paid on redemption of short-term mutual funds (including Rs1.85 lakh penalty to the Income Tax department due to non-disclosure of gain by HSBC to the client) and Rs58 lakh interest on home loan earned by the bank.

When Suchitra wished to surrender her insurance policies, HSBC refused to act for her by contending that they no longer had any tie-up with Tata AIG and that it was not their business to get client’s money back that they had recommended in the first place.

Apart from the losses, the so-called customer service was pathetic after the relationship started getting sour. The bank was appallingly evasive and non cooperative even for basic requests such as furnishing of documents or revoking power of attorney for the investment portfolio. It took the bank four months and repeated requests to furnish inchoate standard forms that Suchitra had signed at the time of appointing HSBC as her portfolio manager. Moreover, the documentation was incomplete.  

According to Suchitra, “It took my chartered accountant six months to authenticate the figures of losses—as not only was the HSBC team adept at covering its paper trail. They also very conveniently refused/evaded furnishing me the documents to which I am legally entitled for over a year—giving me one silly excuse after another like mismatch of signature/officers being on leave, etc.”

She adds, “While I was warned that the legal system in India is such that the matter will drag on forever probably causing me further expenditure and loss of peace of mind and reputation, I was determined to see this through. It is my moral responsibility and a warning to other vulnerable targets—small investors like me should not get conned by aggressive MBA's in suits who are preying on their customers like sharks in the big bad ocean. All the while getting richer and richer while making us small gold fish go bust.”

Last year Moneylife Foundation had conducted a seminar with Ravi Subramanian, banker and author of three well-known books like “If God Was a Banker”, “I Bought the Monk’s Ferrari” and “Devil in Pinstripes”. According to him, “Banks and relationship managers often indulge in cross-selling to earn more revenues and therefore, the customer has to be more careful while dealing with them. Bankers become ‘bhayankar’ when they fail to deliver what they have promised and try to hard-sell products on which they earn more money to the gullible customers. A customer can protect himself from falling into the hands of mercenary bankers by being alert, vigilant and at the same time doing due diligence.”

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COMMENTS

Dr.Abhik De

1 year ago

Moneylife » Personal Finance » Banking » When Banks Cheat Customers
When Banks Cheat Customers

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• + COMMENT
SUCHETA DALAL | 23/06/2015 02:10 PM |
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Stanchart robs a doctor in Kolkata with churning and forgery. Will RBI act?

Dr Abhik De, a highly qualified doctor in Kolkata, had an account with Standard Chartered Bank. Since 2005, the Bank also managed his mutual fund investment which was Rs1.56 crore in 15 schemes. In a 19-month period after May 2008, Stanchart switched and churned his portfolio over 200 times causing a massive loss of Rs68.28 lakh. In so doing, the Bank often forged signatures on transaction slips. At least 50 transactions in July-August 2009, all loss-making, were a give-away since he was out of the country. Dr De confirmed the forgery by writing to each mutual fund and seeking photocopies of transaction slips. Dr De says that some of the forged signatures were even attested by Stanchart officials. When he complained, the Bank initially dismissed his complaint as false and frivolous.

A reckless churning of mutual funds to earn commissions as well as entry- and exit-loads can only happen when there is a nexus between ‘wealth managers’ and the fund managers. Dr De complained to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) but got nowhere. Over the past four years, he has slowly gathered enough evidence to file a police complaint.

Dr De describes the attitude of regulators succinctly and colourfully. He says, “If a person is murdered with an unlicensed revolver, the judge does not ask for the source of the weapon. He conducts a murder trial.” Our regulators have all been focused on trivial technicalities rather than justice even when violation of their own regulations is very clear.

Stanchart’s actions are a direct violation of SEBI’s prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trading practices regulations, as well as the code of conduct for mutual fund intermediaries. Readers would recall that Moneylife’s relentless pressure ensured SEBI action against HSBC in a similar case of churning involving singer-actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi. The actress was eventually paid Rs1.3 crore by HSBC as a settlement. But SEBI has done nothing to help Abhik De.

Finally, the Kolkata police registered a first information report (FIR) based on his complaint in 2014. It caused Stanchart to wake up at long last. The Bank sacked its relationship manager and unilaterally transferred Rs35 lakh into Dr De’s account (November 2014) calling it a “full and final satisfaction of all claims, demands and contentions raised by you.” Adding insult to injury, it called this a “goodwill gesture to maintain cordial relations” with its victim. Obviously, Dr De is in no mood to accept or give up the battle.

The question is why did RBI fail to redress the complaint? An ordinary consumer who cannot repay a small loan or defaults on credit card is declared a defaulter and his financial life is crippled. But a bank decimating a person’s savings through mis-selling faces no action. The collective clout of banks has swung the pendulum of justice far against the ordinary consumer. This cannot go on. RBI’s consumer charter, issued in 2014, is supposed to protect people from such brazen mis-selling. RBI must make an example of Dr De’s case. Awarding exemplary punishment will show that it is serious about fair treatment of consumers.

Dr.Abhik De

1 year ago

The regulator show caused HSBC for violating SEBI code:
MFD/CIR/ 06/210/2002
June 26, 2002
All Mutual Funds Registered with SEBI
Unit Trust of India
Association of Mutual Funds in India.
, AMFI has now prescribed a code of conduct for the mutual funds intermediaries i.e. agents and distributors, a copy of which is enclosed. It is advised that all distributors and agents of mutual funds units shall follow the code of conduct strictly. As advised in the aforesaid circular dated September 25, 2001, the mutual funds shall monitor the activities of their agents/distributors to ensure that they do not indulge in any kind of malpractice or unethical practice while selling/marketing mutual funds units. If any intermediary does not comply with the code of conduct, the mutual fund shall report it to AMFI and SEBI. No mutual fund shall deal with those intermediaries who do not follow code of conduct..
9. Avoid commission driven malpractices such as:
(a) recommending inappropriate products solely because the
intermediary is getting higher commissions therefrom.
(b) encouraging over transacting and churning of mutual fund investments to earn higher commissions, even if they mean higher transaction costs and tax for investors.
Same violated by StanChart/vide moneylife 23.06.15,article.Wonder why regulator non cooperative to take penal action against S.C.B.for violating the same,and in either case no action against AMCs,who connivined with the intermediaries.Signatures forged/kyc all over the places,as self attestation by s.c.b.R.M.Wonder when SEBI/R.B.I. ,will be in action.Even violated banking code.

Dr.Abhik De

1 year ago

Who will win?StanChart or HSBC when in looting investors/plz.compare with your article of 23rd June.Regulator biased.

ABHIK DE

3 years ago

Xerox copy of the same complaints happened with our funds,misselling/churning of mutual funds/ulips/tampered medicals/unauthorised trnxns/kyc violation/violation of financial underwriting/violation of SEBI/AMFI/IRDA guidelines.Hope regulators are watching.S.C.B./BALIC/16 Fund houses,connivined /resoted to above misdeeds.

d p agarwal

3 years ago

We have also been looted by HSBC. We are fighting with them . we need help and guidance.

SUKLA DE

4 years ago

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REPLY

SUKLA DE

In Reply to SUKLA DE 4 years ago

THIS IS AN EMAIL MESSAGE FROM BALIC

SUKLA DE

4 years ago

COMMON SENSE PREVAILING,IF AN INVESTOR APPOINTIG BANK AS FINANCIAL ADVISOR,PAYING FEES,IT IS THE DUTY OF THE F.ADVISOR TO GUIDE THE INVESTOR IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TOWARDS PROPER INVESTMENT.BUT THESE DISHONEST ADVISORS FOR THEIR OWN INTEREST MISSELL INAPPROPRITE PRODUCTS LIKE N.F.Os,WHICH ATTRACT BROKERAGE OF 5%?MIS ADVISED TO GO ON PREMIUM HOLIDAYS FOR ULIPs,THOUGH ULIPS/M.F PRODUCTS ARE LONG TERM INSTRUMENTS.THEY ARE NOT SATISFIED WITH ADVISORY FEES ONLY,THEY WANT MORE IN THE FORM OF PERCENTAGE OF LOADS THROUGH CHURNING.

SUKLA DE

4 years ago

1.Churning
Churning is an illegal trading activity that may cause an account holder to seek damages in a court of law. An unscrupulous broker who is guilty of churning executes trades in a client's account for the sole purpose of generating commissions and thus increasing his own income.

As a measure of churning activity, the court will look at the number of times the investment capital of the account has been "turned over" or re-invested during the past 6 to 24 months. If the entire assets of an account have been involved in buying and selling once ever six months to two years, the broker has churned the account. This kind of activity can destroy the investment value of a portfolio in short order due to the number of commissions generated.
HSBC IS THE BROKER IN THIS CASE./VIOLATING CODE/GUIDELINES OF REGULATORS/AS CHURNING IS COMMISSION DRIVEN MALPRACTICE

Suiketu Shah

4 years ago

I would like to reply to some people who have posted on ml website saying that the root cause of being misselling is "greed" of the customer.This is a total false notion to save the skin fo fraud wealth management companies.Look at this case.Suchitra didnot klnow anything about equity and was taken in by the reputation of the bank who promised her 25% returns per yr or so.IT WAS NOT GREED by the customer.

REPLY

rajivahuja

In Reply to Suiketu Shah 4 years ago

Absolutely right.

Suiketu Shah

In Reply to rajivahuja 3 years ago

Great minds think alike Rajviahuja:)

SUKLA DE

4 years ago

WHICH ONE IS MOREAPPROPRIATE?
1.MUTUAL FUNDS ARE SUBJECT TO MARKET RISK.

OR
2.SUBJECT TO DISHONEST PORTFOLIO ADVISORS/AND THE AMCs,WHO CONNIVINE WITH EACHOTHER TO DEFRAUD INVESTORS OF THEIR HARD EARN MONEY THROUGH CHURNING/MISSELLING/UNAUTHORISED TRNXNS/FORGING SIGNATURES,THEN ATTEST THEM TO ENSURE PROCESSING THEM BY AMCs,WHO IN TURN OBLIGE THE LARGE DISTRIBUTOR TO OBLIGE/SHIELD THEM.

SUKLA DE

4 years ago

WHY SHOULD NOT HSBC BE BARRED FROM SELLING MUTUAL FUND PRODUCTS AS PER SEBI CIRCULAR NUMBER SEBI/IMD/CIR NO 8/174648/2009/DT 27.082009,AS CHURNING IS COMMISSION DRIVEN MALPRACTICE,IGNORING THE FINANCIAL WELFARE OF THE INVESTOR.WHY CHURNING WAS NOT REPORTED BY THE INVOLVED AMCs TO THE MARKET REGULATOR,AS PER ABOVE CIRCULAR,AND THE AMCs SHOULD STOP SELLING THEIR PRODUCTS THROUGH THE DISTRIBUTOR I.E HSBC.

rajivahuja

4 years ago

Some one once told me, an RM of a Bank doubling as an investment advisor is not in your best of interest. So beware of this arrangement.

REPLY

SUKLA DE

In Reply to rajivahuja 4 years ago

R.M ARE CHURNING /MISSELLING TO ACHIEVE THEIR TARGETS FOR INCENTIVES/PROMOTION.BUT THEN,WHAT IS THE JOB OF BR.MANAGER?OR FOR THAT MATTER HIGHER AUTHORITES?THEY ARE MUM SO LONG REVENUE TO THE BANK FLOWS IN.AND WHAT ABOUT THE AMCs?they are supposed to report churning by intermediary to the regulator.ALL ARE HAND IN GLOVE/CONNIVINNING EACHOTHR TO DEFRAUD THE INVESTORS.PLZ.REFER TO AMFI/SEBI GUIDELINE,WHERE IT SAYS,IF ANY INTERMEDIARY FOUND TO BE INVOLVED IN COMMISSION DRIVEN MALPRACTICES I.E.CHURNING,THE AMC SHOULD IMMEDIATELY STOP DEALING ITS PRODUCTS THROUGH THAT INTERMEDIARY/DISTRIBUTOR,AND REPORT IT TO THE REGULATOR/OR THEY SHOULD BE BARRED FROM DEALING WITH M.F.AMCs,wont in fear of loosing large distributor.

rajivahuja

In Reply to SUKLA DE 3 years ago

Kotak Mahindra Bank takes the cake. Better than HDFC Bank in this regard.They pass the buck to Kotak Life Insurance. They brazenly write contact IRDA.Why is IRDA mum on on all of this.

Suiketu Shah

In Reply to rajivahuja 4 years ago

in Sept 2007 HDFC Banks wealth management head office in lower parel sent a few people for us to invest in some big real estete related scheme supported by Deepak Parekh.The min amount they were asking was 25 lakhs and the gestation period was 5 yrs.We didnot go ahead with this in 20097 and when I enquired with their director Amit Kapadia in 2001 end he was laughing at this scheme saying the 2nd phase was to be over but the 1st phase hasnot even been announced yet.

Goes to show each Rm is just out to swindle in any which way in hdfc bank.

ASHOK M SHAH

In Reply to Suiketu Shah 4 years ago

CHURNING is Normal practice among BROKERS,MF and INSURANCE Agents and is allowed by SEBI / IRDA and this Institution who have never been able to find single case to penalize them instead they try to penalize always poor investors by rules like PCAS where they have almost delisted 2500 stocks without giving exit offers to investors.
This institution wants to solve all complaints of investors by just removing them from system So naturally complaint would go down like lakhs of investor has stopped going to Equity , MF and Insurance industry in last 5 years.

ASHOK M SHAH

In Reply to Suiketu Shah 4 years ago

CHURNING is Normal practice among BROKERS,MF and INSURANCE Agents and is allowed by SEBI / IRDA and this Institution who have never been able to find single case to penalize them instead they try to penalize always poor investors by rules like PCAS where they have almost delisted 2500 stocks without giving exit offers to investors.
This institution wants to solve all complaints of investors by just removing them from system So naturally complaint would go down like lakhs of investor has stopped going to Equity , MF and Insurance industry in last 5 years.

ASHOK M SHAH

4 years ago

FINANCIAL ILLITERACY MAY COST YOU ALWAYS YOU IN LIFE.

SO GET FINANCIALLY ILLITERACY CURED FIRST.

LIFE IS ALWAYS FULL OF CHEATERS.

ALL ANIMAL LEARN FIRST WHEN BORN BUT HUMAN BEING TAKES FULL LIFE TO LEARN.

I DO NOT SUPPORT SUCH ACT OF BANKS / INSURANCE CO.

REPLY

rajivahuja

In Reply to ASHOK M SHAH 3 years ago

Mr. Ashok M Shah is write about his candid observations.

Eddie Ertan

4 years ago

HSBC. Whether you read the small print and understand or not, see an experienced lawyer. I did not and relied on the HSBC OFFICIALS and now HSBC made me liable for over £600K used by others.
Eddie Ertan from London

abhik de

4 years ago

If she has to go to the court,then what is the role of regulatotrs?chaurning/misselling should be handled by regulators i.e sebi,amfii,irda.or the codes they have made for intrmediaries,are just for show,and the investors continue to suffer?

Money laundering case registered against Vectra chief Ravinder Rishi

The ED is probing if the defence deals of Vectra chief generated any illegal funds that could have been subsequently laundered in other investment avenues.

New Delhi: A money laundering case has been registered against Vectra chief Ravinder Rishi and his firms by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe alleged generation of illegal funds in the defence deal between Tatra Sipox UK and state-run Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), reports PTI.

The agency has registered the case after gathering initial details of the probe from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other official channels and it is set to question few people including Mr Rishi in this regard.

The ED, according to sources, is probing if these defence deals and those involved in the execution of the agreements had 'off the book' or overpriced transactions leading to generation of illegal funds which could have been subsequently laundered in other investment avenues.

The CBI has earlier questioned Mr Rishi many times in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Tatra truck supply to the Army.

The ED has asked Mr Rishi to produce documents related to memorandum of understanding between Tatra Sipox UK and BEML which was inked in 1997 including the details of their financial statements and tax returns.

The Directorate will ask for similar documents from BEML and if need arises, from the Defence Ministry, the sources said.
 
The probe agencies, according to sources, have found out that it was in 1997 that Tatra Sipox UK signed the truck supply deal with BEML which was in alleged violation of defence procurement rules which say that procurement should be done directly from original equipment manufacturer only.

The first agreement for the supply for Tatra all terrain truck used for the transport of soldiers, heavy machinery, missile systems among others was signed with the Czechoslovakia-based company Tatra in 1986.

In 1997, BEML started procuring trucks through Tatra Sipox UK, claimed to be the marketing arm of Tatra, in which Ravinder Rishi had a substantial stake.

The CBI has alleged that since Tatra Sipox UK was not the original manufacturer of these all terrain trucks, the rule that defence procurements should be made from original manufacturer was violated.

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Sensex, Nifty may resume upmove: Friday Closing Report

However, the Nifty should restrain itself from closing below 5,185

A rout in IT and technology stocks following lower-than-expected fourth quarter results from Infosys and a negative opening of the European indices saw the market plunge in the post-noon session. Yesterday we had mentioned that there may be an upmove to the level of 5,450 if the Nifty manages to close above 5,360 in the coming sessions. We continue to maintain that trend, subject to the index restraining itself from closing below 5,185. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a lower volume of 64.21 crore shares, which was below its 10 day moving average.

The indices managed to close trade marginally above the lows. The Nifty closed 69 points down at 5,207 and the Sensex finished at 17,095, a cut of 238 points from its previous close.

The market opened in the red, weighed down by the dismal guidance announced by IT bellwether Infosys for the first quarter of 2012-13 before the market opened. The Nifty resumed trade at 5277, down 21 points, and the Sensex opened 100 points lower at 17,233. Markets in Asia were up, tracking overnight gains in the US and Europe.

However, positive global cues soon led the indices into the green. Choppiness saw the market fluctuate near its previous close in the first hour of trade. Select buying gradually lifted the benchmarks to their intraday highs in late morning trade. At this point, the Nifty touched 5,307 and the Sensex went up to 17,398.

The market came of the highs and began a gradual southward journey in subsequent trade. The indices slipped into the red at around 1.30 pm, but intense selling pressure in IT and technology stocks and a negative opening of the key European markets saw the Nifty tanking 76 points and the Sensex tumbling 279 points at around 2.00pm. The Sensex touched its intraday low around the same time with the index sliding to 17,027. The Nifty continued its decline and touched 5,185 at the low point of the day.

Meanwhile, the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today asked private companies and PSU to hike their public holding to 25% by August 2013.

The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was negative at 504:930.

Among the broader markets, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 0.72% and the BSE Small-cap index settled 0.63% down.

The sectoral gainers were BSE Healthcare (up 1.03%); BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.59%); BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.51%) and BSE Auto (up 0.45%). BSE IT (down 8.76%) led the losers’ pack. It was followed by BSE TECk (down 6.90%); BSE Realty (down 0.93%); BSE Bankex (down 0.80%) and BSE Capital Goods (down 0.55%).

Sun Pharma (up 2.54%); Coal India, Hero MotoCorp (up 1.52% each); Tata Motors (up 1.33%) and Reliance Industries (up 1.12%) were the top Sensex gainers. Infosys (down 12.61%); TCS (down 5.47%); Wipro (down 4.10%); Hindalco Industries (down 2.58%) and Jindal Steel (down 2.43%) were the top losers on the index.

The Nifty gainers were Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (up 2.36%); Kotak Mahindra Bank (up 2.30%); Sun Pharma (up 2.13%); Coal India and Grasim (up1.65% each). The key losers were Infosys (down 12.82%); TCS (down 5.89%); Wipro (down 4.35%); HCL Technologies (down 3.83%) and Jindal Steel (down 3.41%).

Markets in Asia settled higher brushing aside China’s slower-than-expected first quarter growth and the failed rocked launch by North Korea. China’s gross domestic product expanded 8.1% from a year earlier, the slowest in nearly three years, after an 8.9% gain in the previous quarter.

The Shanghai Composite rose 0.35%; the Hang Seng surged 1.84%; the Jakarta Composite gained 0.48%; the KLSE Composite added 0.12%; the Nikkei 225 climbed 1.19%; the Straits Times advanced 0.33%; the Seoul Composite was up 1.12% and Taiwan Weighted settled 1.64% higher. At the time of writing, the key European indices were down between 0.39% to 0.77% and the US stocks futures were trading in the negative.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs135.98 crore on Thursday and domestic institutional investors were net buyers of equities amounting to Rs237.40 crore.

IDBI Bank plans to mop-up to $1 billion in 2012-13 from the overseas markets through syndicated loans and by issuing bonds. In the just-concluded fiscal, the lender had raised around $720 million. The resources so raised will be given as loans to Indian companies with overseas expansion plans. The stock tumbled 2.32% to close at Rs105.25 on the NSE.

State Bank of Travancore (SBT), part of the SBI group, is mulling a foray into the gold bullion trade by diversifying its products and services. At present it is expanding its branch network across Kerala and other metro cities by adding more than 100 branches, including NRI-specific centres, over the next 12 months. The bank aims a branch network of more than 1,000 units. The stock rose 0.27% to close at Rs571.45 on the NSE.

eClerx Services has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of Agilyst Inc, a closely held US-based KPO company, through its overseas subsidiary eClerx Investments. Post-acquisition, Agilyst will operate as a fully-owned subsidiary of eClerx while Agilyst’s management team will continue to manage day-to-day operations. The stock fell by 0.26% to close at Rs730 on the NSE.

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