Monday, September 25, 2023

Unholy nexus of bank frauds

In a recent report, the Wadhawan brothers – Kapil and Dheeraj- had defrauded 17 banks since 2016 to the tune of Rs. 34,610 crore. The case came up when investors filed cases of fraud to the tune of over Rs.200 crore. The brothers were arrested in May 2020 and are facing trial. Like the Wadhawans, top names in India business such as- ABG Shipyard , Nirav Modi (PNB Bank Fraud); Karvy Stock Broking Limited and Vijay Mallya (UB Scam)- have contributed to the loss on Indian banks to the tune of Rs 4.69 lakh crore on account of frauds between June 1, 2014, and March 31, 2023, from around 65,017 frauds reported across banks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in response to a right to information (RTI) query. According to the RBI Annual Report 2022-23, an assessment of bank group-wise fraud cases over the last three years indicates that while private sector banks reported a maximum number of frauds, public sector banks continued to contribute the maximum to the fraud amount during 2022-23. Just when Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, projected that India will become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, instead, in just over seven years(2014-2021), bank fraud has surpassed $ 5 trillion. It may be noted that India’s total fraud loans in 2020-21 alone amount to Rs 1.37 lakh crore, accounting for 99 per cent of all bank frauds. In 2022, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed parliament that banks have written off bad loans worth Rs 10,09,511 crore during the last five financial years. The ED also recorded around 515 cases of bank fraud in public and private sector banks, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), from 2014 to 2022.The ED registered 515 Cases, attached properties worth Rs 47,099 Crore since 2014. In financial year 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reported bank frauds amounting to more than 302.5 (Rs.30,250 crore). During 2018-19 there were 6,799 frauds in banks involving a colossal Rs.71,543 crore. In 2019-20 there were 8,707 bank frauds involving Rs. 1,85,644 crore while in April-June 2020 there were 1,558 frauds involving Rs.28,843 crore. The public sector banks have borne the worst of the scams by far. According to the figures for 2019-21, public sector banks are responsible for Rs 2.94 lakh crore in frauds, while private sector banks are responsible for Rs 86,355 crore. Even though the number of frauds in the private sector was more (3,710) than in the public sector in 2020-21, (2,903). The loans that stayed unpaid by larger corporate borrowers, largely from public sector banks, accounted for around 77.9% of the total. The public sector banks are linked to a higher level of fraud due to their increasing corporate exposure to high-risk sectors of the economy, which the government has purposefully promoted to assist its “corporate champions.” Rather than leaving such mega-infrastructural funding to development finance organisations, ordinary citizens’ hard-earned resources were released for speculative, dangerous, and occasionally fraudulent businesses. These frauds happen due to nexus between corrupt bank officials, politicians and crooked businessmen. Hence, they go easy on giving loans to borrowers who are likely to default. Of course, there is always the threat of transfers, which works very well. However banks show no mercy to borrowers who default on a few crore rupees. This has happened for years on end.

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