The savings in costs by doing away with branch audits is one gain. The other is to put more responsibility on the main auditor, who now has to give his opinion without hedging that he has depended on another person to audit branches
A report in a leading business newspaper titled ‘CAs lobby against RBI plan to reduce audits’ mentions that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to scrap the ‘branch audits’ for PSU banks. This is a long overdue move and should be welcomed. Branch audits have lost their relevance in the age of technology. Core banking ensures that routine checks like interest calculations, branch transfers, credits, etc, are captured at a centralised place. Credit decisions are also getting centralised. Thus, branch audits become totally redundant.
In any case, branch auditors were not very relevant in the scheme of things. They had no role to play in the accounts finalisation, where the main auditors (or a panel of auditors) were the prime movers. Of course, this hits the chartered accountancy (CA) firms which used to get this lucrative business from the PSU banks through a tender system rather than on competencies or merits. They will also raise objections saying that frauds will go undetected. In fact, rare is the fraud that has been unearthed by a branch audit. The auditors are under pressure of the bank managements at all times and have to give in to what the bank wants. If a bank is serious about finding/checking frauds, unless the bank is willing to bare its books, nothing can be found out. Maybe an RBI inspection could throw out something. However, in this era, documentation alone will never be a point to bring frauds out into the open. Technology helps in perfecting documentation. Banks will disclose what they want to, audit or no audit.
In any case, branch audits are never an annual feature for each and every branch. In any case, one branch used to get audited only once in two or three years. In most private sector banks, with total centralisation, the role of a branch is limited to accepting deposits and executing orders from the head office. All lending decisions are through a standard template controlled and supervised from the head office. The branch is merely an outpost and nothing more. The costs of branch audits far outweigh gains, if any.
There was also a ridiculous practice of having a credit panel with outside representatives. Fortunately that has been discontinued and credit panel is limited to bank insider representation alone.
The savings in costs by doing away with branch audits is one gain. The other is to put more responsibility on the main auditor, who now has to give his opinion without hedging that he has depended on XYZ to audit branches, etc.
Even branch advances can be audited by the main auditors sitting at the head office. Data transmission is a breeze. It would also help some PSU banks to get more centralised and remove discretion away from small branch managers or regional offices. Banks like ICICI have successfully centralised lending and it is indeed the global practice. This will iron out kinks in lending and make frauds less widespread.
Maybe doing away with the branch audits is a good step to help focus on better systems and controls within the PSU banks.
The author can be reached at [email protected]
SOPA and PIPA, the proposed laws make it easier for American copyright holders to cut off access to foreign websites hosting unlicensed copies of films, music and television programs
Online encyclopaedia and the world’s sixth most visited website—Wikipedia—said it would shut down its English version in a protest against the proposed internet piracy laws in the US.
In a statement, Sue Gardner, executive director, Wikimedia Foundation said, “My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on 18th January, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment."
According to a Reuters report, Google has repeatedly said the Bill goes too far and could hurt investment. Along with other Internet companies such as Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and eBay, it has run advertisements in major newspapers urging Washington lawmakers to rethink their approach, the report says. Micro-blogging site Twitter, however, has slammed Wikipedia's plan to shut its site, reports the Guardian.
The blackout by Wikipedia and Reditt, a popular link-sharing service, is in protest against proposed legislation—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the US Senate—that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia. The SOPA aims to crack down on online sales of pirated American movies, music or other goods by forcing Internet companies to block access to foreign sites offering material that violates US copyright laws.
“We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States don’t advance in the interests of the general public. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we're seeing the development of legislations intended to fight online piracy and regulate the Internet in other ways that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA; they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone," said Ms Gardner in a statement.
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, estimated that 100 million English-speaking Wikipedia users will be affected by the blackout and also warned students to “do your homework early”. On Twitter, he posted, “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”
Wikipedia and several other sites are calling on US lawmakers to block the SOPA and PIPA. They are concerned the laws will “hold website owners liable for links to sources of illegal music and movie downloading, with a detrimental effect on free speech online,” The Financial Times reports.
Reddit and the Cheezburger network, which includes such sites as The Daily What and Fail Blog, also plan to shut down to protest SOPA, The Washington Post reports. The document service Scribd already made a billion pages vanish in protest, the Post says. Craigslist posted a message to all its users explaining it and other website's opposition to the bills.
The SOPA and PIPA, however have created rifts between technology companies like Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and media production companies, including Hollywood studios and music labels. The bills’ supporters are saying that the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property rights and jobs.
Last week, US president Barack Obama's Internet advisors, in a statement, said that the provisions for blocking foreign websites 'pose a real risk to cyber-security'. “Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small,” a White House spokesman said.
Commenting on the White House’s statement, Rupert Murdoch, chief executive, News Corp, which owns vast array of media properties from Fox TV, the Wall Street Journal to Twentieth Century Fox studios, said, “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery”.
Coming back to India, Google and Facebook told the Delhi High Court that it is not possible for them to control content posted by billions of people on their sites. The high court was hearing a case related to allegedly objectionable content on 21 sites, including Google and Facebook.
Earlier, metropolitan magistrate Sudesh Kumar summoned these companies to face trial for allegedly committing offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 292 (sale of obscene books and material and section 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person).
While Rajasthan police are taking on fraudsters who are operating various MLM and ponzi schemes, the state government is working on a bill to curb the MLM menace
The growing menace of multi level marketing (MLM) and ponzi schemes like Speak Asia are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of several state agencies.
After Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, police from Rajasthan have been pro-active in busting such schemes and are investigating the activities of such companies.
Recently, the Rajasthan police unearthed a MLM scheme operating under the name of Right Concept Marketing (RCM) in Bhilwara district, famous for its clothing industry. The police are tracking couple of other similar schemes.
According to an officer close to investigation, besides RCM, there are lot of schemes offering investment and high returns on gold, while others are selling some kind of products in Rajasthan.
The officer, preferring anonymity, told Moneylife that, “We are looking at the financial analysis of these schemes. Generally, they always promise high income on recruiting new people. There have been few complaints from the people. Apart from booking the master-minds of these schemes under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Banning Act, we have also charged them with certain sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code).”
Recently the bail applications of RCM directors were rejected by the Rajasthan High Court as it found prima facie evidence against them in money circulation scheme.
According to police estimates, the fraud is in the tune of Rs2,000 crore. The business model of RCM, was based on networking where it invited people to become member on the payment of Rs1,500. To avail 10% commission they were asked to recruit more people in the scheme. The company is not registered under the Companies Act.
“We are closely co-ordinating with different government agencies. For instance, we are in touch with enforcement wing of the Income Tax department,” the officer added.
In November, last year, ponzi scheme Gold Sukh made headline after it allegedly duped 1.75 lakh investors for more than Rs300 crore. Gold Sukh promised returns 27 times than the investment in just 15 months and was able to lure many politicians, police officers and businessmen. The Jaipur police are probing the scheme and had also issued a Red Corner Notice, through Interpol, against its absconding directors.
According to a news report, Rajasthan chief minister has asked officials to draft a bill against fraudulent MLM schemes against the backdrop of the on going investigation in the multi-crore Gold Sukh scam.