Appreciation, respect, et al. Bankers have been lauded for the crazy amount of additional work that they have been burdened with to tackle the demonetisation chaos. Be it sitting at the counter disbursing notes or managing the harried customers and maintaining sanity in banks, the last 30 odd days have been tough for the banking industry.
However, all is not well. While flowers are being distributed in respect of the dedication of the bank employees, questions are also being raised over their involvement in discrepancies over the distribution of the new currency. Are bankers to be blamed for the unending lines outside banks and ATMs and the ‘no cash’ board that seems to be stuck on all money dispensing machines?
A limit of Rs 24,000 withdrawal has been fixed per week from an account. But on several occasions in the past month, huge stacks the newly minted Rs 2000 notes have been found from several parts of the country.
Is it feasible that during a time that there is such an acute shortage of the new currency, large volumes of new notes are being found in raids across the country? Should bankers not be held responsible for the ‘back-door channelising’ of funds?
The buck needs to stop. And bankers are accountable. Senior officials of various public sector banks have come under the radar for indulging in corrupt practices. Nearly thirty senior officers have been suspended over the last month in connection with money laundering.
Income Tax authorities in their raids have found crores of cash in new currency notes. Such large amounts cannot be obtained without the connivance of bank officials. There have also been instances where bank officials have been held for allegedly taking undue advantage of the cash crunch by charging money for replacing the old notes with the new ones.
As per a claim by the Enforcement Directorate, some shell firms with the help of bank managers have deposited crores of cash. The “modus operandi” used for such transactions included giving a commission at 2 per cent of the amount deposited to the middlemen (read bank officials).
During its raids from across the country, the Income Tax Department has found unaccounted income worth Rs 152 crore.
— The biggest-ever cash seizure of the new currency notes was reported from Bengaluru where two engineers working with the state government were found in possession of Rs 5.7 crore in the new notes of Rs 2000.
— Rs 10 lakh cash in new notes of Rs 2,000 was recovered from the premises of a Kolkata-based doctor.
— A mix of old and new currency notes of over Rs 8 crore were found at a lawyer’s office in south Delhi
— Currency notes of over Rs 8 crore were found at a lawyer’s office in south Delhi
— A former BJP politician and five others were caught in Kolkata for after over Rs 33 lakh, mostly in the new currency, was found in their possession.
The Finance Ministry has warned bank officials against malpractices stating that “illegalities will not be tolerated and appropriate action will be taken against individuals involved in irregular and unauthorised activities”.
The arrest of bank officials:
— A manager and a cashier arrested from Bhatinda in Punjab for allegedly charging money from people for replacing old currency.
— Two managers of Axis Bank were arrested in Delhi after gold bars weighing more than 3 kg were recovered from them.
— Two HDFC bank officials in Gurgaon were booked for allegedly illegally exchanging currency notes.
Cracking the whip on bankers, a CBI court in Chennai had said that the demonetisation policy was being undermined by some bank officials. Since these frauds are happening right in front of the eyes of bank officials, it not possible that they have been oblivious to the fact of how the irregularities are being carried out.
The merits and demerits of demonetisation can be debated. But not even a single reason can be given to justify the unscrupulous bank officials who are overpowering the respect-worthy work done by their colleagues across the country.