cobrapost - April 27, 2013

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Canara Bank, Case 1, D.K. Prasad, Manager, Trade Finance, South Delhi

A customer-friendly banker, Prasad is ready not only to put three lockers at our disposal to stash our illegitimate crores but also to act as facilitator to make our money white through an outside source

When the Cobrapost reporter walks up to the desk of senior banker at this branch of Canara Bank in South Delhi to discuss some long-term investment, the banker is busy dealing with some customers and other routine work. The work and the customers gone, Manager D.K. Prasad turns to our reporter. Our reporter tells him why he is there: I have to make a long term investment of Rs.50 lakh. There should be no TDS. How much interest you offer on FDs and how much TDS we will have to bear if we go for FDs.

Prasad says: “50 lakhs mein TDS jo hai … aapka … agar PAN card dete hain toh 10 per cent ke hisab se katata hai (TDS on 50 lakh would be around 10 per cent if you give PAN card).”
Since we already have said at the outset we don’t want TDS, Prasad suggests a way out: “Agar TDS nahin katna chahte hain … aap chahte hain ki TDS nahin kate toh in that case aapko Form 15 G ya 15 H ek dena padega (If you don’t any TDS there, then in that case you will have to submit Form G or H).”

This is what we want. But then won’t we be required to show it in the books, our reporter raises a genuine concern.

The banker asks about the source of the fund: “Nahin … ye fund aapka kahan se aa raha hai (No … from where have you got this fund).”

Our reporter is cagey about it and doesn’t divulge the source for apparent reason.
Prasad tells why PAN is necessary and all the crap we don’t want to hear. He asks what would be the mode of investment: “Dekhiye agar aap bank mein daalte hain … theek hai … kaise? … cash ya by cheque (You see, if you put in the bank … ok … but how? … cash or by cheque).”

It is all in cash, says the reporter.

Prasad continues: “Toh usmein aisa hoga jaise aapne account mein daal diya hai … toh PAN number toh aapko dena hi padega … kahin bhi agar aap cash use karenge toh PAN number dena padega … if it is more than … if it is fifty thousand and above toh aapko PAN number dena padta hai (Then, if you put it in the account, then will have to give your PAN number … where you do it you will have to give PAN number … if it is more than … if it is fifty thousand and above, then you have to give PAN number).”

Oh no this is the last thing we want. If I give the PAN, then it may be disclosed, I am afraid, the reporter reiterates his concern. Maybe it is linked to our accounts with other banks.

Prasad tries to convince: “Nahin waisa kuch nahin hoaga disclose …. cash jama ho jayega uske baad account ho jayega lekin ek cheez aapko ye dekhna hai ki TDS toh aapka katega hi katega system pe … as per system … kyonki aapka interest income kaafi hoga (No, nothing will happen like that … cash will be deposited and after that account will be opened, but you will have to see that your TDS will be cut anyway by the system … as per system … because your interest income will be big).”

Not be a desirable situation, our reporter says, tell us if the money could be invested in some long-term insurance.

Help is at hand as the banker likes the idea and immediately tries to contact somebody on phone but is unable to get through. Meanwhile, the same customer comes in with some documents, and the conversation picks up after he is dealt with by the banker. Our reporter now tells the banker who he is representing. A well-known minister owns all this money and he has asked him to get it invested in some long-term plan.

Understanding the point, Prasad says: “Haan theek hai long term mein (Yes, that is right … in long term).”

The minister wants it to be invested in the names of three individuals: the minister’s wife, his frontman, the reporter himself, and his wife. The cash has to be converted into white. Finally, the reporter tells the main objective of the whole exercise.

The banker is listening to him attentively while holding the phone to his ear as he has again dialed the phone to somebody. Finally, he is able to speak to the person concerned and directs the woman insurance official to reach the office posthaste. In the meanwhile, he is again dealing with the same customer who has come in again to know about certain formalities. In between attending to the work pertaining to the customer, he informs the reporter that the marketing officer concerned is visiting the branch. She will arrive in about 15 minutes.
It will be great, says our reporter, till then let us discuss something more. We will be requiring a big locker in March, says the reporter.

Says Prasad: “Chalo locker bhi (Ok locker also).”

Prasad is a busy man and the way he is dealing with his customers makes it clear that he is a friendly banker. While he is busy working, our reporter tells him we will need a big locker as the minister is expecting Rs. 5–7 crore from a deal in Greater Noida. We will keep the cash there.

He then invites the banker to meet the minister to his residence nearby in the evening. Nodding his head, Prasad continues his work.

Some moments later, Prasad says with nonchalance: “Toh black ko white kyon nahin kar lete (Why don’t you make black white).”

That is why we are here, says the reporter, excited as he is. Why don’t you help us?

After so long a wait, we finally come to know we have landed at the right place and are talking to the right person.

Disposing of the customer, he turns to our reporter to say: “Toh agar bahut zyada amount hai toh aapka CA toh kisi ke through kara sakta hai isko white … yahan kya zaroori laga jo aa gaye (If it is so needed then why your CA is not getting it converted into white through somebody else … why did you come here).”

You see there are many who can do it for us, says the reporter, as a matter of fact. But can you trust them when the amount is really big? More such big money is due soon. Tell me if you can help us. We will pay whatever are your charges, and you can come to discuss the matter in the evening. We stay close by.

Prasad say: “Theek hai (Alright).”

It is all about trust, says the reporter.

Agreeing, Prasad returns: “Haan usmein koi dikkat nahin … method jab karna hai to kum se kum sahi salamat karna hai (Yes … there is no problem … whatever be the method it should be safe).”

So, will you route the money through account to make it white, asks the reporter.

Replies Prasad: “White toh bahar ke through ho payega … wo bhi koi account ka cheque dega aapko (White will be made through some source outside … he will also give you a cheque from his account).”

That is fine with us, says the reporter.

Prasad continues: “Wo company ke through jo hoga wo aapko cheque dega … jo itna genuine kaam hoga wo aapko pata hai … wo bhi is tareeke se apna … bade bade CA jo returns wagaireh hain wo usmein adjust karenge (That will be done through a company … that fellow will give you a cheque … that will be a genuine job … you know it … they use this method … big CAs who prepare returns etc. will adjust in their books).”

It is perfectly in order. We didn’t approach the private banks for two reasons: first your money is blocked for 10 years or so and then you never know if it would be really what they promise.

Therefore, if by paying 4–5 per cent fee to the person concerned we make our black money white, then nothing like it.

Open three accounts, says our excited reporter.

Nodding his head in agreement, Prasad thinking for a moment and says: “Aap matlab saara uss tareeke se investment karna chahte hain … lekin direct cash bhi usmein through jayega ismein ye bhi dekhne wali baat hai (You mean to make all the investment that way … but I will have to see if direct cash can be routed through it).” The banker is coming around, slowly, and now knows how we want the job to be done.

Our reporter suggests him to do the way which is “safe.” We don’t want it to come into the notice. He then goes on to tell how his master, the minister, is expecting Rs. 5–7 crore from a deal in Greater Noida. You know how risky it is to keep such huge cash at home. Would he provide a bank locker big enough to keep the cash?

Replies Prasad: “Abhi mere paas small size ke toh bahut pade hain … lekin bada size nahin hai (At present, I have many lockers of small size … but the bigger size is not available).”
Then allot us two.

Prasad is ready to give us three lockers, instead: “Koi dikkat nahin issue kar doonga … doh chote chote size ke … doh ya teen issue kar doonga (No problem, I will issue … two of small size … I will issue two or three lockers).”

We will keep the cash in the lockers and from there hand it over to the source you will suggest to make it white. It will serve our purpose very well as we will remain tension free and then nobody would come to know about it. It rests upon how well we get along and the trust we keep.

Says Prasad in reassuring manner: “Koi dikkat nahin … koi dikkat nahin ayegi (There is no problem … there will be no problem).”

Reassured thus, our reporter talks to him some sweet nothings like where he belongs to and how long he has been with Canara Bank.

The banker from Bihar comes straight to the point: “Main jo aapko white karane ke liye jisase milwaoonga wo humare media person hain … unka media mein bada kaam hai unka bahut acha relation hai in sub cheezon mein Finance Ministry se lekar (The person I will take you to who will make your money white is a media person … he has a big business in media … he has very good contacts for all these things from the Finance Ministry to …).”

Now, we trust you and know only you, says reporter, putting the onus on the banker.

Reassures Prasad again: “Maim samajh gaya samajh gaya … issi tareeke se hoga (I understand it … understand it … it will happen only this way).”

We don’t know anybody else, says the reporter, reposing full faith in the banker, and we will simply handover the cash to you and receive it back in white from you only. You have to tell us what the fee is.

“Generally chhe per cent lag jaata hai (Generally, about 6 per cent),” says the banker.

Won’t there be some consideration when the amount is so big? The reporter tries to bargain.

Haven’t you got it done for a lesser fee when the amount was big?

Replies Prasad: “Nahin … isase pehle hua tha toh kareeb chhe per cent chhe sawa chhe percent … chhe per cent ka generally hota hai (No, when it was done earlier it was 6 or 6.5 per cent … it is generally 6 per cent).”

Apparently, Prasad has facilitated such deals in the past.

The reporter then sell him the same story of one builder who has now agreed to give the minister Rs. 37 crores in lieu of Rs. 25 crore that the minister had given him in good faith. The minister had to do some arm-twisting.

After getting confirmation from him on the deal of making the money white and keeping the cash in bank locker, our reporter broaches up another important service that we are looking for.

The minister’s wife often goes to England. Can we send some of the cash from those crores to be kept in your lockers to some of her relatives, say, about Rs. 50–60 lakh two–three times.

Prasad replies: “Bhej sakte hain … koi dikkat nahin hai (We can send it … there is no problem).”

Do you have a system for transferring money abroad, asks our reporter.

Yes we have says the banker: “Haan system toh hai … wo account ke through hi hoga lekin (Yes we have the system … but then that will be routed through account only).”

We have no problem, says the reporter. Do it as is convenient for you. We are not in a hurry.

The banker then informs that according to RBI guidelines, we can transfer abroad about US$ 2 lakh.

Thus satisfied on all counts, our reporter takes his leave promising to meet again to take the deal forward in the presence of the minister.

On being contacted after the expose, the government banker is open to invest all our crores and is ready to help us convert it into white with the help of a builder he had promised us in our previous minister. He changes his stance double quickly to deny his bank is into conversion of black money.

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