While the common borrowers are struggling with repaying equated monthly instalments (EMIs) of their loans and also face harassment for missing a single EMI, big and wilful defaulters seem to not only go scot-free but also 'live life king-size' without any worry or fear of any action due to the the banks, especially the public sector banks (PSBs), turning a blind eye on these lapses. In a reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says there are 1913 wilful defaulters, who together owed Rs1.46 lakh crore to banks as on June 2020.
Pune-based RTI activist Vivek Velankar had filed the RTI application with RBI to get information on wilful defaulters. He says, "The information shared by RBI reveals that there are 264 wilful defaulters who defaulted on a loan of Rs100 crore and above. There are 23 defaulters with an outstanding of over Rs1,000 crore and their dues accrue to Rs43,324 crore. Wilful defaulters who owe between Rs500 crore to Rs1,000 crore to banks are 34 and their outstanding is Rs22,105 crore. There are 207 wilful defaulters in the Rs100 crore to Rs500 crore default range and together they owe Rs43,095 crore to PSBs. This also means there are total 264 wilful defaulters with bad loans of Rs100 crore and above and owe Rs1,08,527 crore to banks."
RBI told Mr Velankar that the concerned banks have filed cases to recover their dues from these wilful defaulters. While RBI shared this information under the RTI, Mr Velankar feels since banks are submitting these lists of wilful defaulters under a regulatory mandate, the central bank should suo motu publish this information on its website to create awareness among citizens and bank customers.
Topping the wilful defaulters' list is Mehul Choksi's scam-hit company, Gitanjali Gems Ltd, which owed Rs5,747.05 crore, besides other group companies, Gili India Ltd and Nakshatra Brands Ltd, which had taken loans of Rs1,446 crore and Rs1,109.16 crore, respectively.
The second on the list is REI Agro Ltd, with an amount of Rs3,516 crore, and its directors Sandip Jhujhunwala and Sanjay Jhunjhunwala are already under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the past more than a year.
The next on the list is Frost International Ltd with an outstanding of Rs3,097.64 crore. It is followed by the absconding diamantaire Jatin Mehta's Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery owing Rs2,975.73 crore and which is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for various bank frauds.
Kanpur-based writing instruments giant, Rotomac Global Pvt Ltd, part of the famed Kothari group, is next on the list with an outstanding of Rs2,530.95 crore.
The others among the top-10 wilful defaulters include, Kudos Chemie, Punjab (Rs1,948.12 crore), ABG Shipyard Ltd (Rs1,874.90 crore), Transstroy (India) Ltd (Rs1,861.11 crore) and Forever Precious Jewellery and Diamonds Pvt Ltd (Rs1,653.25 crore).
Another bad-boy of bank defaults, Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd is at the 15th place on the list with dues of Rs1,335.26 crore.
Interestingly, the outstanding debts are higher compared with the information shared by the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) in July this year.
As part of its nationwide campaign to celebrate the bank nationalisation day, the AIBEA had released a list of wilful defaulters of the public sector banks (PSBs). The Mehul Choksi-owned Gitanjali Gems Ltd, with its default of Rs4,644 crore to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) topped the list. It was followed by ABG Shipyard Ltd (Rs1,875 crore, owed to the State Bank of India-SBI), REI Agro Ltd (Rs1,745 crore, UCO Bank), Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd (Rs1,618 crore, SBI), Gili India Ltd (Rs1,447 core, PNB), Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery Ltd (Rs1,390 crore, Central Bank of India-CBI), Kudos Chemie Ltd (Rs1,301 crore, PNB), Nakshatra Brands Ltd (Rs1,109 crore, PNB), Coastal Projects Ltd (Rs984 crore, SBI) and Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery Ltd (Rs892 crore, PNB). These top 10 defaulters together had an outstanding of Rs17,005 crore to state-run lenders. (Read: Top Wilful Defaulters: Here is the List of 2,426 Who Together Owe Rs1.47 Lakh Crore to Public Sector Banks
Information provided by RBI to Mr Velankar does not reveal names of the banks who had given these loans. However, data shared by AIBEA shows that among the 17 public sector lenders, SBI has the highest number of wilful defaulters at 685, who together had defaulted on loans of Rs43,887 crore. It is followed by PNB, which has 325 wilful defaulters with an outstanding of Rs22,370 crore. The data shared by the bank employees’ union, however, has no information about wilful defaulters in Union Bank of India (UBI) and IDBI Bank Ltd.
"Public sector banks as well as the union government need to show some willingness and take steps to recover these dues from wilful defaulters. In fact, if the cases against wilful defaulter are decided in a fast-track court, then just from 264 wilful defaulters, banks can recover over Rs1.08 lakh crore," Mr Velankar, who is also President of the Sajag Nagrik Manch, says.
Here is the list of wilful defaulters as released by RBI under the RTI Act...