Looting Legitimately

Will SEBI-RBI Protect this Investor?
 

I n direct contrast to SEBI’s enthusiasm in the attempted-fraud, is the case of ML Sharma, a victim of gross mis-selling by his own bank. Mr Sharma’s manager at IndusInd Bank (Delhi) persuaded the 79-year old to invest Rs4 lakh in the product of a mutual fund house, DWS, which he was told was the Bank’s ‘Development of Wealth Scheme’—a fixed deposit. Mr Sharma was persuaded to break a fixed deposit, by waiving charges and transfer the money to this scheme. The manager went to his house to complete the formalities and helpfully offered to fill in the form details himself. Mr Sharma was delighted at the ‘service’ and fell for it. After all, most people trust their bankers implicitly. As our columnist Vivek Sharma has written, the DWS Hybrid Fixed Term Fund Series 10 Growth is a fixed term debt plan with no redemption for five years and only a market exit where liquidity is poor to non-existent.
Mr Sharma realised that he was cheated when he received his first statement. He complained to the Bank, which ignored him. He approached the banking ombudsman, who summarily dismissed the complaint because Mr Sharma had signed the investment document.

Now, here are a few important issues. Mis-selling of insurance and mutual fund products by bank managers is rampant and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is fully in the know of this practice. But this is a mutual fund, so SEBI’s standards ought to apply. Back in 2008, SEBI issued rules said that stockbrokers “owe their clients a duty to provide suitable investment advice in the best interest of the clients.” Independent financial advisors also have to ensure that people get the right advice, even if they don’t get to earn commissions. Only bank relationship managers continue to indulge in brazen mis-selling and con people into buying mutual funds, unit-linked insurance products and hybrid-derivative products on the promise of higher returns. SEBI, RBI and the insurance regulator have done nothing to prevent such cheating. People, like Mr Sharma, are hapless victims. Mr Sharma says, “I am a very old man with an ailing wife” and as a retiree from the private sector he lives on interest from savings. At the age of 79, he does not need a locked-in mutual fund scheme with uncertain returns. He is completely bewildered and shattered. His only mistake was to trust his banker, only to be cheated.

This targeted mis-selling to their own customers, that too hapless senior citizens, is far worse than breaking all the rules to help launder black money through the banking system. When the ombudsman dismisses such complaints without going into details, it is signalling to the banking industry that it is alright to pick the pockets of their own customers through deceit. More damagingly, it is telling people never to trust their bankers.

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Will this 79-year old’s protest move the government and the RBI to stop mis-selling by banks?

When a banker comes to your home, exploits your trust and dupes you, he is called a bankster. Why doesn’t such systematic criminal exploitation of hapless depositors move the government and the banking regulator? This 79-year old has resorted to Gandhigiri to get justice

In the past couple of days 79-year old Mangelal Sharma goes to his bank (IndusInd Bank, Preet Vihar Branch, New Delhi) wearing a specially made T-shirt. It carries his photograph and says “BEWARE IndusInd Bank is a cheat. It has cheated me and may cheat you”. He says there was a lot of commotion when he first walked in and some said that they too had been cheated by the bank. On Saturday he wore the T-shirt and danced at the branch singing “Kya mil gaya sirkar toomhen meri FD (fixed deposit) toodake, mujhe mutual fund mein fansa ke, mujhe choona lagakey”. This parody of this song from the film Kissa Kursi Ka has Mr Sharma asking the bank what it achieved by entrapping him to invest in a mutual fund.

 

The story behind this protest will make you furious. It is about how banks have turned into banksters and send out armies of managers to entrap, con and lure trusting account holders to invest their saving in instruments that earn them a high return. ML Sharma, like the majority of senior citizens in India, has his money in fixed deposits. The risks are low and the interest income provides him with the income security someone at his age and in his circumstance requires. He is 79. His wife, at over 70 years, has recently undergone second knee replacement surgery, after the first operation in October 2012 was unsuccessful. He is, in his own words, an “old man with an ailing wife”. Yet, his bank, IndusInd Bank, thought it fit to sell him a mutual fund product with a lock-in period of five years by persuading him to withdraw his fixed deposit of no less than Rs7 lakh and invest it in what they told him would simply be another low-risk banking product. This is no doubt a shocking example of how far banks will go to earn commissions. Mr Sharma approached the Banking Ombudsman for justice, but his case was rejected outright because Mr Sharma had signed the investment form. Apparently nothing else matter. This gives banks and their agents the license to lie and cheat any of us out of our savings so long as the signature on the form is ours.
 

Yet, this 79-year old hasn’t given up. In his reply to the banking ombudsman, after his case was dismissed, Mr Sharma has written, “I beg to knock on your door for justice again. Sir, I am totally unable and devoid of energy to take legal action in a court and count only on your sense of justice and mercy. Even a judge considers the relevant circumstances under which a person commits a murder to arrive at the correct judgment. Just the fact that I had signed the investment documents is insufficient. It must also be considered under what circumstances I had signed the form.”
 

It is very apparent what transpired. Mr Sharma says, “I never approached the bank for investment advice. Jyotirmay Sharma, the branch manager, came to my house, along with another officer, Mr Kesharwani. Yet, the bank still claims that they came to my house on my request. That they came to my residence to tender advice on my seeking is unthinkable. If I had sought any advice, the branch was the proper place, not my residence. They had gone on a hunting spree for a gullible person like me for earning profit for the bank.”
 

While at Mr Sharma’s house, the bank representatives found out that he had no money to invest. Knowing that he would object to breaking his fixed deposit, as he would have to pay a penalty on premature withdrawal, they offered to waive the premature withdrawal fees. They then proceeded to tell him about a cooked up product name—Development of Wealth Scheme or DWS, which they said was also offered by IndusInd Bank. What they did, in fact, sell him was DWS Hybrid Fixed Term Fund Series 10 Growth, which is sold by Deutsche Asset Management India Pvt Ltd (DWS).

 

Mr Sharma says, “They did waive the premature withdrawal fees. But at no point was I told that I was investing in a mutual fund. I was told it would be a scheme of the bank itself. They told me I could quit the scheme at any time and that the proceeds would be credited in my savings account the very next day. I did not think of a mutual fund or lock-in period at all.”
 

At the time, Mr Sharma appreciated the service of the bank employees. The service, of course, included filling up the form as well. All Mr Sharma needed to do was sign the form. Today he regrets trusting the IndusInd bank employees. Mr Sharma says, “I had signed the cheque in the name of DWS and the rest was written by the bank personnel. Had I written full name of the mutual fund, I would have known. I am ready to bear the fees of a handwriting expert for examination. I am even ready to pay a penalty of Rs1 lakh if it is proved that the full name of the scheme on the cheque is in my handwriting.”
 

It was only when an email, sent by IndusInd Bank on 11 October 2012, was received by Mr Sharma that he realized what had been done to him. He said, “I raised an objection the very same day I received the email. Had I known the terms and conditions of this investment earlier, I wouldn’t have raised the objection immediately after receiving the email.”
 

Given that it was a mutual fund that was sold to Mr Sharma, various standards laid down by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) should apply. In 2008, SEBI issued rules that said that stockbrokers “owe their clients a duty to provide suitable investment advice in the best interest of the clients”. Very soon financial advisors will also have to ensure that people get appropriate advice. But bank relationship managers continue to indulge in brazen misselling and con people into buying mutual funds, unit-linked insurance products and hybrid-derivative products on the promise of higher returns.
 

I wrote to the RBI governor Dr Subbarao, SEBI chairman UK Sinha, RBI deputy governor Dr KC Chakrabarty and the revenue secretary Sumit Bose about Mr Sharma’s case on 12th April. As usual, they have maintained a complete silence. To us, the deliberate cheating of senior citizens and women—who are the biggest targets for banksters—is a bigger problem the same bankers laying out a red carpet for those with political black money to be laundered.

 

For us, this is not just another article, especially since the depositor/investor himself is making all efforts to get justice. Moneylife Foundation, the voice of savers, wants to start a campaign to stop such criminal malpractices. Here is what we propose. We want to collate all such cases of mis-selling by banks and represent to the regulators to stop the abuse. We need as many examples as possible.

 

Call to action

 

If you know of similar cases of mis-selling by banksters, please write to us with details at [email protected].

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COMMENTS

Kisalay Somani

4 years ago

Moneylife Team, Kudos to your efforts to get justice for Mr. Sharma. Now shouldn't we proceed with filing a criminal case with the law authorities against IndusInd for "Fraud and Forgery" of tampering with a financial instrument as per Mr. Sharma's claims.
Just getting Mr. Sharma his hard-earned money isn't enough to set an example for these institutions.

-Kisalay

REPLY

Michael Mason-Mahon

In Reply to Kisalay Somani 4 years ago

We know that there are problems in India, just like the rest of the world.

What have the RBI about Mr Sharma's case?

Mr Sharma has show India and the whole world what one very brave man can do. He is a very courageous man and I do salute you.

Will the RBI show how brave they are?

The financial sector is very important to any country, we have seen the abuses that is going on.

These abuses calls into question the creditability of the Regulators.

Michael Mason-Mahon

In Reply to Kisalay Somani 4 years ago

We know that there are problems in India, just like the rest of the world.

What have the RBI about Mr Sharma's case?

Mr Sharma has show India and the whole world what one very brave man can do. He is a very courageous man and I do salute you.

Will the RBI show how brave they are?

The financial sector is very important to any country, we have seen the abuses that is going on.

These abuses calls into question the creditability of the Regulators.

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

REPLY

Michael Mason-Mahon

In Reply to Suman Khanna 4 years ago

Dear Suman Khanna
Please allow me to introduce myself I am Michael Mason-Mahon and I am base in London.

If you would like to send me the full details of your complaint and a contact number, I will send your complaint to the Chairman of Aviva in London. I am a small shareholder in Aviva, but I will get you complaint investigated properly.

Kind regards
Michael Mason-Mahon
Mobile: 0044 7834763544
Mobile: 0044 7448770801
E-mail: [email protected]

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win."

Suman Khanna

In Reply to Michael Mason-Mahon 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Michael,
Thanks your your concern. I am sending you all the details on mail

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

v

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

REPLY

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Suman Khanna 4 years ago

What is the purpose of posting the same comment a dozen times without any details?

Maybe you can consider making the effort to get our email ID and send clear details as we require. How can anybody help with a dozen messages and no details?
Also, what have you done so far to help yourself?

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

Suman Khanna

4 years ago

Dear Sucheta Ji,

I have also been cheated in the ame manner. I had saved the funds for my sons marriage. An executive from Aviva approached me with a lucrative Fixed Deposit and sold me insurance instead.
I have written to numerous people but have not got any relied inclusing IRDA. Request you to please help me.
Suman Khanna

nishi

4 years ago

SEBI controlled by Govt, RBI controlled by Govt, Banks controll the politicians so its an unholy nexus

India is no longer place to do business sincerely or you will go bust

Michael Mason-Mahon

4 years ago

Will the RBI & SEBI start an Official Investigation into HSBC?

How many INNOCENT VICTIM's of HSBC must there be before the RBI STOP's HSBC in India?

Before reading anything about HSBC, people should go to youtube: 1) How HSBC Chairman Mr Flint lied to shareholders. 2) Protest against HSBC in Mumbai. 3) Help Stop Bankers Cheating

Is Lies the new truth at HSBC? Is Cowardice the new Courageous Integrity at HSBC? Is HSBC stealing people’s reputations, is HSBC committing fraud against customers in India and Indian's around the world?

Mr Gulliver states 'HSBC of today' is vastly different to the one that made the errors. Mr Gulliver the behaviour was criminal not an error. Is HSBC is still abusing customers in India; many people are claims HSBC has committed fraud against them?

Before any Company engages in doing business with HSBC is it compatible own Business Code of Behaviour
Senate investigation concluded that HSBC provided a, quote, "gateway for terrorists to gain access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system."
Senator Levin said HSBC had been ‘pervasively polluted for some time’.

Can the world forget the last ten years of HSBC Group helping Drug Cartels, Iran, Libya, Cuba and ignoring USA Trading with the Enemy Acts, even after being warned it still continued, who was the Finance Director? Mr FLINT

What HSBC has now admitted to is, more or less, the worst behavior that a bank can possibly be guilty of.
These crimes were so obvious that apparently the cartels in Mexico specifically designed boxes to put cash in so that they would fit through the windows of HSBC teller windows.
Can Society or the Regulators forget or ignore the innocent Victims of HSBC in India

Is the Group Chairman of HSBC Mr Flint asking the whole world to forget, the illegal behaviour of HSBC Group around the world.

People judge a company for what it has done in the past , what HSBC has done in India and around the world for the last ten years has it been criminal behaviour?

Mr Flint you have not met the expectations of the people in India or the Regulators around the world.

HSBC did meet the expectation of overseas Banks with links to terrorist financing, HSBC did meet the expectation for Drug Cartel's wanting to launder drug money.and as far as contributing to the fulfilment of their aspirations and ambitions you did fulfil their ambitions of laundering money. Which HSBC did that for many years.

HSBC takes compliance with the law, wherever it operates, very seriously. I this just a very bad joke by HSBC?

In India HSBC has killed the aspirations and ambitions of so many people by falsely registering them with CIBIL, asking people to sign blank LOI's, demanding money illegally.


"By setting the highest standards of behaviour our aim is that all of our employees and customers can be proud of our business"
Stuart Gulliver,
HSBC Group Chief Executive
We ask is this Fact or Fiction or is it just LIES? The evidence can NEVER support the above statement by Mr Gulliver.

Can Society or the Regulators forget or ignore the innocent Victims of HSBC in India.


Michael Mason-Mahon
Mobile: 0044 7834763544
Mobile: 0044 7448770801
E-mail: [email protected]

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win."

arun

4 years ago

I am heading International Consumer Rights Protection Council (ICRPC). I receive hundreds of complaints from consumers across India who were cheated by banks by diverting consumer FDs to insurance plans. Many lost their amounts by not being able to pay premiums, as they were misguided by bank stating that their premium was one time only whereas it was yearly. The consumers were not able to pay the hefty yearly premium, which was in lakhs.

Another way the banks are cheating consumers is that while opening the bank accounts they offer lifetime FREE debit cards. But later they start charging. I had to fight for mine and finally I obtained a certificate from Chairman of ICICI Bank that my debit card is lifetime free as per my original account opening application terms which saifd it is life time free.

The biggest cheater of all is the ICICI Bank. If you watch closely, you will find that almost 95% of the Nigerian and Lottery frauds happen in ICICI accounts. This is the result of ICICI bank aggressive selling of their accounts where they compromised on security. They even visited MBA degree colleges to enroll students for free accounts and free credit cards.

One more common way of cheating by banks is that they give you less interest amount on your FD, whether it is quarterly, monthly or yearly. Just calculate and see whether you are receiving the correct interest amount. In my case, i confronted the Bank of Baroda recently when I found that the quarterly interest amount was lesser than what was quoted on the FD certificate. Why don't the banks write the monthly / daily interest amount also on the FD certificate instead of writing as percent, so that the consumer knows how much money he will get as interest. It is not possible for common man to do all calculations to know the interest amount from percentage calculation.

Banking Ombudsman should be scrapped as they are not doing their job properly. They are mostly either in favor of the bank or favor of dismissing the complaint. Hardly any consumer gets justice from Banking Ombudsman. I get many consumers who wish to file complaints in consumer courts after dissatisfaction from Banking or Insurance Ombudsman.

RBI is just a spectator....talks big but does not do anything.

I am happy that RBI is being confronted by Moneylife for their lapses.

Best regards,

Arun Saxena
President
International Consumer Rights Protection Council
http://www.consumergrievance.com
Cell: 9969828656

Parmod Sachdeva

4 years ago

If you make a Banker Sales Man of third party products many more Sharmas will be cheated in future also. In one of the columns you have rightly pointed out Banker as Bhayankers in their new avtar of seller of 3rd party products.

HG Sharma

4 years ago

You have inspirational approach Mr. Mangelal ,thank God you are not suffering in silence. We as a country,are silent sufferers . Since we are silent,we get isolated and the cheats get easy access everywhere.Companies may be big,small,ethical or unethical.govt or private , but the employees are over greedy,when approach a prey it hardly matters which company they represent .Moneylife is lending a solid platform for Financial sufferers of the country ,this will create awareness and save many many more from the cheats.Some time back, I wrote to Moneylife to know if there is any platform where PMS ( Portfolio Management Services )sufferers can alert fellow investors . I would like share my views / plight on PMS.Infact for last more than 3 years ,I just wanted to know ,if there is any one who got benefited by this service , my service provider ,gets into silky cocoon and says there are many but SEBI prohibits them from providing this info , whereas , in fact SEBI is for the protection of Investor's interest.Alone it is tiresome to fight them for a senior citizen , Mr Mangelal is an exception ,and so hats off to you Mr. Mangelal.

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