How Corporation Bank Officers Forced the Management to Avoid this Huge Bad Loan Possibility
On reading the unfolding new drama of another big loan fraud on the Indian banking sector, I recalled the Aesop’s fable about a boy who became a big thief.
 
He was to be executed for his crime. In deference to his last wish his mother was produced before him. He told her that he would like to whisper in her ear; when she was close to him he severely bit her ear. Called upon to explain his inhuman conduct he responded: ‘when I stole small things in my younger days she did not reprimand me; rather she partook of the spoils.  Had she disciplined me I would have been a different man today.’ 
 
In the beginning of 2000, when I was President of Corporation Bank Officers’ Organization (CBOO), a colleague from a western India branch of the bank called me up to apprise me of a development in the account of a corporate client. Against a sanctioned cheque-purchase limit of Rs1 crore, the company would too frequently deposit cheques worth five times that limit.  
 
They were always for round amounts and issued by unknown and unapproved entities. He and his manager felt that the firm was indulging in kite-flying and were worried that the bank would run a risk. Upon briefing the bank’s zonal head about the questionable conduct of the account, he overruled their apprehensions and advised them to continue to accept such cheques beyond the sanctioned limit. 
 
Uncomfortable with his advice, the officers wanted us to take up the matter with the top bosses of the bank. Their concern could be ignored at a great risk to a small bank of our size at that time.
 
Next day, accompanied by DN Prakash, the General Secretary of CBOO, I met the chairman and managing director (CMD) of the Bank. We apprised him about the case and requested him to initiate appropriate action to safeguard the bank’s interest. He assured to act. 
 
At that time, the posts of CMD were clubbed into one and he was the chief executive (CEO). Now it is split into a non-executive chairman and a whole-time managing director who is the CEO.
Days passed with no movement at the corporate office. Meanwhile, the officers in the branch were under tremendous tension. Torn between the pressure and their conscience they contacted us again with more updates, which were worrisome. 
 
Left with no choice, we tried to confront the CEO for the inaction. He was annoyed at our literally barging into his chamber. Armed with the latest facts, we demanded the suspension of the zonal head who was apparently hand in glove with the client. 
 
The CEO appreciated our persistence and apologised for his tantrums but said suspending a senior official would scandalise the Bank. Instead, he would be removed from the operations pending investigation and formal disciplinary proceedings. The executive was shifted to the corporate office immediately.
 
When I briefed our doughty colleagues about the development, they shared some new information. The company had approached a private bank for credit facility to enable it to clear the liabilities of our Bank. 
 
The CEO of that bank was a senior colleague of mine known for his uprightness. I called and cautioned him about the risk his bank would run if the company’s application for credit limits were approved. A few days later, he came back to me to confirm that the company’s application was turned down by his bank and thanked me for forewarning him.
 
In the meantime, a director of the company flew to Mangaluru to meet the Bank’s CEO seeking three months’ time to clear his company’s liability. It was granted. Within next six months, the company cleared all its dues to Bank. The colleagues thanked us for our timely intervention. The company thereafter moved to other banks. 
 
The name of that company was, Sterling Biotech! 
 
The series of media reports about the fraud Sterling Biotech has now allegedly perpetrated on a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank and the stories of the vanishing trick played by its directors who, I learn, have left India, made me do a little bit of rewinding and talking again to the old colleagues who helped us blow the whistle in 2000. 
 
The CEO superannuated three months later and he is no more. The zonal head in question was later rehabilitated by a new CEO. In due course, he became a top executive of the Bank. If age were with him, he would have become executive director and possibly managing director of another bank. 
 
The former CEO of the private bank now lives in Mangaluru. When I spoke to him about the developments, he gratefully recalled my advice for helping his bank. 
 
Sandesara brothers of Sterling Biotech, like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksey symbolise a malady that afflicts our financial system. The system ignores the early warning signals. 
 
The promoters fly high, impress the bankers with an aura of ‘go-getters’ and evolve an immunity system around them so that their initial forays into the world of crony capitalism are treated as symbols of dynamism. Bankers get quick returns and, some gain personally.  
 
If the situation becomes too hot, they will resort to fire-fighting but without imbibing the lessons from such experience or sharing the lessons with peers. Very often, it is easier to find scapegoats so that the real actors get out of the picture.
 
I have documented the episode in my autobiographical book in Kannada, Sangharshadinda Samarasydedege (From Conflict to Harmony), published in 2015 by Navakarnataka Publications Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru (Pp.141, 142). As the colleagues were still in service at that time I did not disclose their names and of the client. My anxiety was they could be hauled up under the archaic fidelity rules, which proscribe the bank employees from disclosing the names of clients to the outsiders.
 
If there are whistleblowers, they might themselves become targets of reprisal as happened to Devidas Tuljapurkar in Bank of Maharashtra (2013) or PS Rajagopal in Canara Bank during late B Ratnakar’s time (1986). 
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COMMENTS

Dayananda Kamath

2 weeks ago

The union claiming praise now for the situation at that time is misplaced and undeserving. It was personality clash between office bearers of the union and the concerned Zonal head. The other version of the story is to settle score the union leaders actually compromised banks interest. They misused their connection with the private bank executive to ensure that the high value cheque in collection is dishonoured. But they failed in it. As the branch manager refused to oblige as there are funds in the account to honour the cheque.
They were using the premier services of caps from the bank at that time. If the officers as claimed in the episode were so vigilent how they allowed similar misuse in other group of company around the same time were the bank lost nearly 100 crores.

Why the union claiming the fate of whistle blowers in other banks allowed to happen it in their own bank is it because the officer is from other union?

REPLY

Dayananda Kamath

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath 1 week ago

The zonal manager at that time who the union was targeting had a rare quality and ability to micro manage the issues where he has taken a calculated risk in a proposal for banks business improvement till the risk is mitigated, a rare quality missing in today's bank executives and is the reason for today's banking crisis.
This is posted not to support or criticise what has happened in these cases, but should give credit where it is due. He did not get the age advantage to head the banks because he was active in the union in his younger day before the present day leadership took the helm. And the situation would have been better for banks than when headed by others.

Dayananda Kamath

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath 2 weeks ago

Now regarding the sterling group. It was not that powerful when the above incidents took place in corporation bank.
It was only after setting up the gelatin plant they become a big group. Actually, corporation bank handled the imports for setting up of the units but in subsequent to starting production they shifted to other banks. They were using the CAPS facility which was a premier service of the bank even availed by foreign banks. It was a cash cow for other income for the bank.
It had lacuna which was allowed to be abused and bank was not running any risk as the round tripping facilitated free float funds to the customer for a day or two.
The braking of the chain was the risk. Bank never had enforceable documentation for this risk. Only when the abuses gone beyond limit some risks emerged and had lost huge amounts after that they initiated documentation process.
In the environment of ratio banking and excel sheet financing, many a bankers guided, supported the efficient enterpreneures to abuse the system and over financed. And this greed facilitated the present crisis in banking. Even now the Govt authorities, regulators are interested in protecting the rogue bankers and giving sops to create new scams.

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath 1 week ago

Mr Kamath, your responses surprise me. To accuse a union doing sterling work of having vested interests is extraordinary. First, Corporation Bank's union has been an active whistleblower in innumerable cases. I have personal knowledge of this for well over a decade. So your allegations suggestion this was a one off thing are wrong.
Secondly, are you seriously saying what the union did was wrong after the promoters of Sterling have fled the country? You are also defending the zonal manager who would clearly have ensured the bank was dumped with significant bad debts.
I am afraid the comments raise questions about your reasons.

Dayananda Kamath

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 1 week ago

It is the other side of the coin I have shown. It is the fact heard from the horses mouth before this incident was published. And about the zonal heads quality I have said also is my personal experience. I was in Baroda and handled the imports for their gelatin plant set up in late nineties. But after opening of the plant they shifted to other banks. And I was also transfered from there and not aware of the subsequent development. On the inauguration day their technical collaborator were surprised about the innovation they have incorporated in the plant, and surprised that why they did not think of these things all along. It is such entrepreneurship gave them the edge. And bankers as well as enterprenuers caught in the greed abused the system to the hilt. So claiming credit now after such a long time is misplaced and undeserving as my first sentence of the comment. Hope you agree. Further I have also sent so many emails and tagged you to tweets about how banking is being manipulated. Hope you will go through them.
I am not aware of any whistleblowing done by this particular union. If that is true corporation bank would not have been in present position from pinnacle of strength when prudential norms were introduced. So it is their over activation or non action where it is desired may be the reason for the present position.

Dayananda Kamath

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 5 days ago

The battle for Board Room seat, business line dtd 12/10/2017
It has come at right time there are no employee and officer director in non of the public sector banks as on date. The good governance mismanagement of Public sector banks.
In Corporation Bank when a note for new branch is to be presented it used to have a para how the additional staff will be sourced for the new branch to be opened.
Excess staff from the region will be redeployed was the standard phrase.
It was high time of cross fire between recognised employee union opposing VRS and recognised officer union demanding VRS as given in other banks.
The employee Director raised the issue of how many excess staff are there in region to deploy on these notes. The department completely withdrew that para itself from board note and non of the board members objected to this practise.
So what deference does it make who is director if vital particulars are conveniently removed, and decisions are taken and approved.
Once again good governance by scam free Govt.

Dayananda Kamath

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 days ago

I am sharing a comment posted today by some one for your consideration
Robbery at Corporation Bank - Khaira Branch (1490). (Zone - Delhi South). Cashier Shri Santosh is shot dead by robbers and is no more. May God give strength to his family members to withstand the loss.
Management is responsible for this accident which 5 years back took a visionary decision for cost cutting by stopping recruitment of arm guards. Today most of the branches in Corporation Bank doesn't have an arm guard.
Security officer in each zone is enjoying to the fullest.
Branches are suffering .
If any untoward incident happens then Branch manager is made the scapegoat.
He CBOO union people if you cant fight for our salaries atleast fight for our life.
You did nothing when finacle was imposed without any planning and branches suffered for full 2 years. Link never came between 4-7. Even female staff gotbfree at 9-10 pm. Thousands of customer left the bank because of poor services which was finacle fault. But because management got fat money from WIPRO( who implement it at corporation bank) you ket quiet.
Now new internet banking interfave is pathetic. Customers are not able to do even balance check in it.
In this era of digital age it is a shame that Corporation Bank doesnt have presence social media presence . People are furious on twitter with new internet banking.
And then you keep casa mobilization drive every fortnightly. Are you people stupid or you don't have any shame left?

Some people are commenting money is insured he should have given money without any altercation.
Comrades FYI robbers shot him at first i stance only. Didnt ask him anything.

Dayananda Kamath

2 weeks ago

Comment already posted

REPLY

Dayananda Kamath

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath 2 weeks ago

My earlier detailed reply was not uploaded hence I posted a shorter version.

Pankaj Parmar

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath 2 weeks ago

I recollect that quite long back, even All India Banks Officers' Union voiced its concern, and was vociforce on the issue of Bad Recoveries / rising NPAs and tandrum with top oned of nationalized banks were working, over-stepping themselves in such shabby deals.

RBI Keeps Repo Rate Unchanged at 6.5%

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday maintained status quo on repo rate (short-term lending) at 6.5% in its fourth monetary policy review for 2018-19.
 
Following the move, the reverse repo rate (short-term borrowing) stands at 6.25%. Subsequently, the marginal standing facility (MSF) and the Bank Rate have also remain unchanged at 6.75%.
 
In a statement, the Reserve Bank said, "The decision of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is consistent with the stance of calibrated tightening of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4% within a band of 2%, while supporting growth."

The decision of the MPC is consistent with the neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4% within a band of plus or minus 2%, while supporting growth, the central bank says.

According to the central bank, actual inflation outcomes, especially during August, were below its projections as the expected seasonal increase in food prices did not materialise and inflation excluding food and fuel moderated.

It says, "While the projections of inflation for 2018-19 and first quarter of FY2019-20 have been revised downwards from the August resolution, its trajectory is projected to rise above the August 2018 print. The outlook is clouded with several uncertainties."

"First, the government announced in September measures aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to farmers for their produce, although uncertainty continues about their exact impact on food prices. Secondly, oil prices remain vulnerable to further upside pressures, especially if the response of oil-producing nations to supply disruptions from geopolitical tensions is not adequate. The recent excise duty cuts on petrol and diesel will moderate retail inflation. Thirdly, volatility in global financial markets continues to impart uncertainty to the inflation outlook. Fourthly, a sharp rise in input costs, combined with rising pricing power, poses the risk of higher pass-through to retail prices for both goods and services."

"Firms covered under the Reserve Bank's industrial outlook survey report firming of input costs in second and third quatr of FY2018-19. However, global commodity prices other than oil have moderated, which should mitigate the adverse influence on input costs. Fifthly, should there be fiscal slippage at the centre and/or state levels, it will have a bearing on the inflation outlook, besides heightening market volatility and crowding out private sector investment. Finally, the staggered impact of house rent allowance (HRA) revision by the state governments may push up headline inflation. While the MPC will look through the statistical impact of HRA revisions, there is need to be watchful for any second-round effects on inflation. The inflation outlook calls for a close vigil over the next few months, especially because the output gap has virtually closed and several upside risks persist," RBI added.
 
Dr Pami Dua, Dr Ravindra H Dholakia, Dr Michael Debabrata Patra, Dr Viral V Acharya and Dr Urjit R Patel voted in favour of keeping the policy rates unchanged. Dr Chetan Ghate voted in favour of hiking rates by 25 bps.
 
The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled between 3rd to 5 December 2018.

Here are the latest policy rates following MPC review… 
 
Repo Rate: 6.50%
Reverse Repo Rate: 6.25%
Bank Rate: 6.75%
 
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Chanda Kochhar quits ICICI Bank, Sandeep Bakshi is the new chief
Chanda Kochhar has quit ICICI Bank with immediate effect, says a regulatory filing from the bank. The board of ICICI Bank has decided to appoint Sandeep Bakshi as managing director and chief executive for next five years. 
 
"The board of directors of ICICI Bank, accepted the request of Ms Kochhar to seek early retirement from the bank at the earliest. The board accepted this request with immediate effect. The enquiry instituted by the board will remain unaffected by this and certain benefits will be subject to the outcome of the enquiry. Ms Kochhar will also relinquish office from the board of directors of the Bank's subsidiaries," the Bank said in the regulatory filing.
 
Separately, the Bank says, owing to health reasons MD Mallya its independent director had also resigned from the board.
 
Ms Kochhar is facing allegations of conflict of interest over a loan to Videocon Group that had in turn lent to a company part-owned by her husband.

The decision of the 56-year-old brings to an end her nine-year reign as the top executive of the bank.

In 2009, Ms Kochhar was appointed as MD and CEO of the bank and has been responsible for the bank's diverse operations in India and overseas.

Her alleged conflict of interest came out in the open in March this year after media reports referred to a Rs3,250-crore loan granted by ICICI Bank to Videocon Group, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot had business links with her husband Deepak Kochhar. It was alleged that Mr Dhoot transferred a considerable portion of the loan to a company he jointly owned with Mr Kochhar.

The media expose was based on a complaint filed by a whistleblower, who flagged Ms Kochhar's alleged impropriety and conflict of interest in a letter to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.

The bank initially termed the charges against Ms Kochhar as "malicious and unfounded rumours" but after relentless public gaze, and regulatory pressure, the lender ordered a probe into the whole issue.

In 2012, a consortium of 20 banks and financial institutions sanctioned credit facilities to the Videocon Group for a debt consolidation programme and for its oil and gas capital expenditure programme aggregating to about Rs40,000 crore.

Currently, Supreme Court's former judge BN Srikrishna is heading an independent inquiry into the allegations.

On 30th May, the bank had announced that its board decided to institute a 'comprehensive enquiry' to look into an anonymous whistleblower's complaint alleging that Ms Kochhar had not adhered to provisions relating to the bank's "code of conduct".

In June, Ms Kochhar decided to proceed on leave.

Thereafter, Mr Bakshi was appointed as the wholetime director and chief operating officer (COO) of ICICI Bank.

You may also want to read...
Kochhars’ business links with Videocon dates back to early 1990s at least
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COMMENTS

Deepak Narain

2 weeks ago

Big people have big contacts and they are seldom punished in the real sense. Laws, courts and punishments are designed for the small fries.

Mohan Krishnan

2 weeks ago

Even Late Ms. Phoolan Devi must be turning at her grave.

V Ramesh

2 weeks ago

Why did she want to be re-elected to the Board of ICICI Securities just a few weeks ago, if she as going to quit?

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