By - May 8, 2013

ICICI Bank, P. Pathak, Case 1, Branch Manager, East Delhi

The soft-spoken banker is an ace when it comes to ideas of converting black money. He would make it safe for both the bank and the customer. He says: “Dekho, aisi cheez aap mat karo jissein hum dikkat mein aayein … aur hum aisi cheez aapko nahin batayenge jisse aapko bhi dikkat ho (Look, don’t do something which becomes problematic for us … and we will not tell you something which becomes a problem for you, either).”

The Cobrapost journalist walks into the chamber of Branch Manager P. Pathak and announces his intention of making a handsome investment in three names. There should be no TDS.
After describing various tax-free schemes, Pathak suggests an attractive plan with life-long assured returns on sum assured. There are no taxes, and the returns are tax-free.
Would we get the returns in white, by cheque?
Pathak assures: “Sab kuch everything is fair … jab aap daaloge koi bhi TDS … koi bhi enquiry kisi se koi matlab nahin (Everything is fair … when you put in [your money] … you won’t have be bother about TDS … an enquiry of any sort).”
Pathak tells us that at ICICI Bank, it is mandatory to have an account before any investment is made.

We agree to open an account.

The branch manager further tells us that the money will be routed directly. When we confirm with him whether all the cash will be routed directly, Pathak says: “Nahi, cash me toh nahi hoga (No, it will not be done through cash).”

We reveal that the entire amount is in cash.

Discussions are now on soft footing.
Is PAN card mandatory for making investment?

Pathak says yes, but that is not a problem. He explains why: “PAN number agar aap disclose nahin karoge toh aap pachas hazar se upar kuch nahi kar sakte … PAN to aapko har halat mein karna hi padega disclose … PAN disclose karke aap jo hai account mein jama karwaoge paisa … aur account se investment mein le jaoge … toh jab agar aapse koi poochta bhi hai ya enquiry bhi hoti hai … toh ye paisa jo hai white mein hoke chala gaya aapka saara policies mein … uska koi tax nahin hai (If you don’t disclose your PAN number, you cannot invest more than Rs. 50,000. You will have to disclose the PAN in any case … after disclosing your PAN details, you can deposit money into your account and then transfer the money into investment. So, in case somebody asks you or if there is any enquiry, this money will have already turned white when going into the policies. There will be no taxes).”

What if this information is disclosed anywhere? Our reporter expresses his fear.
Replies Pathak: “Koi nahi … PAN ki koi nahi (None of it … nothing about the PAN).”
Pathak then briefs us what documents we need to submit to complete the KYC formalities, such as a copy of passport, PAN card and an ID proof, and a cheque of Rs 10,200.
Can the account be opened in cash?
Pathak says no and gives the reason: “Dekho, aisi cheez aap mat karo jissein hum dikkat mein aayein … aur hum aisi cheez aapko nahin batayenge jisse aapko bhi dikkat ho … hum aapko aisi cheez batayenge ki aapka kaam bhi ho jaye aur aap lafde mein bhi na phanso (look, don’t do something which becomes problematic for us … and we will not tell you something which becomes a problem for you either … we will tell you something that works for you and you don’t land in any trouble).”
The senior banker then goes on to elaborates on his modus operandi: “Main to aapko wo cheez bataoonga jo … aap bhi safe raho aur as a banker main bhi safe rahoon … dono taraf se … to humara sabse prime agenda hai ki hum jo hain isko account khulwayenge … account mein fir aap jitna bhi cash deposit karna ho cash deposit karo koi dikkat nahin hai aur uska bhi tarika batayenge hum ki kaise information bahar nahi jayegi … wo bhi sub hum aapko guide kar denge (I will only tell you the ways by which both you and I as a banker are safe … our prime agenda is that we will open account … you can deposit any amount of cash you want into it … there is be no problem … I will tell you the way so that no information is leaked … we will guide you on that as well).”

How would you push the money into the account?
Pathak says: “Ek din mein dus lakh se upar ki transaction nahin karni hai apne ko … 80 lakh agar jama karwana hai to hum 8-8, 9-9 lakh karke … teen account hain toh hum aise karke … wo hum bata denge uski koi tension nahi hai … us hisaab se hum karwa lenge uski koi aafat nahi hai (You will not make transaction of more than Rs. 10 lakh a day … if you want to deposit Rs. 80 lakh then we will do it in tranches of Rs. 8–9 lakh … if you have three accounts then we will do like this …. we will tell you … don’t take any tension … in that way it will be done).”

This is a clear case of misguiding a customer to get all his money, no matter what colour it has, for the maximum cash one can deposit is Rs. 10 lakh a year, not the way this banker is suggesting us.
We move on and put in another request.
The minister is expecting Rs. 5–7 crore in a few months. Would you provide a locker to safe keep all the cash?

There are no lockers in his branch. But Pathak would get us at some other branch of his bank.
What about a counting machine to count all our cash before it is stashed away in the locker of your bank?

After exchanging numbers, we tell Pathak that we also need the cash to be counted at the bank before putting it into the lockers.

Pathak would get every penny counted: “Haan … kara denge counting machine har branch mein available hoti hai (Yes … it will be done … counting machine is available at all branches).”

We request Pathak to keep all details of the transaction a secret.

Reassures Pathak in his typical style: “Mere ko kya lena dena (How does it matter to me)?”
In other words, he doesn’t know anything the reporter, as a client, would be doing with his bank!

He further adds: “Mere paas toh aise matlab … saare hi clients mere aise hain … saare hi clients hain jinke paise se nahi lena dena … main as a banker hoke doosre ko thode hi inform karoonga ki uske account mein pachees lakh pada hai … mera toh business hai aur mere upar hi afat aa jayegi (All my clients are like this … and I am not concerned with any of my client’s money … as a banker I will certainly not disclose to anybody that Rs. 25 lakh is lying in a person’s account … this is my business and it will be like inviting trouble).”

But we need to be sure. Therefore, we ask if he has done such cash investments for other clients before?
“Haan haan (Yes, yes),” he confirms.
Are there ways of investing Rs. 5–7 crore that our minister is expecting?
He thinks a bit, before saying: “Yeh toh fir aapko jo hai na … kuch idhar udhar karna padega kuch property ka (Then you will have to do it some different ways … such as in property).”
He talks about his past clients. In doing so, he drops names, big ones. He claims that he helped them invest Rs. 50 lakh and more. That was when he was with the Connaught Place branch.
Returning to our proposition, we talk about the procedure.
Pathak says: “Sub tarika hai usmein … sub mein daal denge hum … 9.5–9.5 sub mein daal denge … khatam khel (There are all kinds of ways for it … we will put in all of them, say, Rs. 9.5 lakh in each account).”

We would do as you suggest, we say, appreciatively, and ask if we should invest in construction business?

Help is at hand, as Pathak reveals: “Baat main karwa doonga… Gulshan ke naam se hai… wo mera friend hai… main use inform karke… aapki baat karwa denge aap mil lena (I will introduce you to him … his [the builder] name is Gulshan … he is my friend … I will inform him … I will introduce you to him … then you can meet him).”

But before our investment materializes, we would have to open an account with his bank.
We would sure love to start a relationship with his bank, we assure Pathak.

As we take leave of the banker, we decide to meet again to take the deal forward in the presence of minister.

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