cobrapost - April 27, 2013

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IDBI Bank, Case 1, V. Joshi, Assistant Manager, Central Delhi

A young assistant manager has gained enough experience in his short banking career to be able to handle large sums of black money, as well as be cautious enough about the cash-in-the-locker issue.

Walking into this branch of IDBI Bank somewhere in Central Delhi, the Cobrapost journalist meets a young banker and draws him to a conference room to state his purpose: He has to invest Rs. 50 lakh, to start with, in three names, for guaranteed returns with no TDS.

Assistant Manager V. Joshi ponders a little and, like an old professional, suggests us to invest a larger chunk of money in a woman’s name to avail the benefits under the Women’s Property Act. He proposes to meet at a more comfortable place: “Jahan aap comfortable hain wahan baithte hain … aap ke ghar pe ya… (We can sit wherever you are comfortable … maybe at your place or…).”

The reporter tells him who the real owner of this money is, a minister, and it has to be invested in the names of three individuals: me, my wife and the minister’s wife.

Joshi seeks to know: “Paise jo mantriji denge wo kis form mein? Hard cash? (In which form will the minister give the money? Hard cash)?”

We indicate it is all in cash, and ask for his advice.

Without hesitation Joshi continues: “Uske liye ye karo ki aap ke naam pe ya kisi ke bhi naam pe … jitney bhi log kar rahe hain, unke account khol ke us paise ko route karao pehle (For that, first you open accounts in your name or in the name of anyone … all other persons who are doing it … route the money [through them]).” What the young banker is suggesting is clear: open an account, put your cash into it and then route the same into investment.

We agree to open the accounts.

Investment would follow then: “Uske baad IDBI ka investment hota hai … to IDBI ke naam pe cheque diya … wo transfer mein chala jayega … usmein koi issue nahin ayega … because investment mein jahan pe cash ata hai wahan pe black cash ka issue aa jata hai (After that begins [the process of] investment with IDBI … you can issue cheques … that will go through the transfer … there will be no issues because whenever there is cash involved in investments, the issue of black money crops up).”

The conversation moves on to various forms of instruments, and Joshi suggests us to opt for a policy with guaranteed returns.

We, however, say that we are more interested in three things: Money should grow, there should be no TDS, and the money gets converted into white.

Quick to understand why we are investing, Joshi says: “Main samajh gaya … aap ko black ko white mein convert karna hai (I have understood … you want to convert your black money into white).”

We have two avenues, says our reporter, either we go to the marketplace and pay 2–4 per cent to get our work done or we invest in FD.

Joshi interrupts to say: “Aap ka TDS katega aur heavy amount par FD ka source of income puchte hain … woh aap de nahin sakte (You will have to bear TDS, and then they will ask you for the source of income when you buy FD for a heavy amount … you cannot provide that).”

We agree. What is the way out?

Joshi has an answer: “Isko aapko daalna hai dheere dheere … ismein jahan pe jaldi kari wahan par nuksaan hai (You have to put in [the money] slowly … if you rush, you will lose).” He gives details of the policy. We explain that we trust a government agency, so that when Rs. 5–7 crore comes in February, we would know where to go with it.

He wants somebody to co-ordinate with him. Our reporter says he will be there for it.

Joshi explains why: “Jab bhi aapka payment ka time ayega, pehle aap ke black money ko mein route karoonga account mein, account se white karne ka route karoonga … isiliye co-ordination chahiye (When the time comes for you to make payment, first I will route your black money to the account, then I will route that money [into investments] through account for making it white … that is why I need [somebody for] co-ordination).”

In few words, Joshi has explained us the modus operandi of making our money legitimate.

We remind him that he should not exceed any amount he has already invested for any client earlier. If, for example, he has invested Rs. 1 crore of black money for some client, we would invest Rs. 50 lakh to which he agrees.

Then, we go over to the locker issue. We tell him that we need a big locker to put in a large amount of money that is coming in February. We ask him to place a request for a locker on our behalf.

He instead offers to introduce us to his branch head: “Aap chaho to abhi mil lo … branch head saath mein baithte hain (If you wish meet the branch manager right away … he sits here itself).”

We go in search of the branch manager but he has stepped out for a moment. We return to the conference room and get back to the locker issue. We tell him that the locker should be big enough to hold Rs. 5–7crore.

He warns us: “Ye mat boliye ki locker mein aap cash rakhoge 5–7 crore rupaye … aapko sirf locker size chahiye … locker aapka hai … andar kya hai woh aap ke alawa koi nahi jaanta (Don’t say that you will keep Rs. 5–7 crore cash in the locker … you only want a particular size of locker … locker is your property … whatever is kept inside it nobody will know except you).”

Joshi is not getting into this. We ask him a straight question: Is it not legal to keep cash in the locker?

Joshi strikes a note of caution: “Dekhiye Sir, aap cash rakhte ho … locker mein rakhte ho … jo bhi kar rahe ho … locker ke andar kya details hai ye aap kisi se share nahin kar rahe ho … hum kyun batayein … (See, Sir, you keep the cash … keep it in the locker … whatever you are doing [with it] … you will not share the details with anybody … then why would we tell anything)?”

To probe further, our reporter asks, if it is wrong to put cash in the locker.
Joshi gets philosophical about it: “Galat sahi kuch nahin hota … locker aap ka hai … woh aap ke personal use ke liye hai … aap chahe usmein gun rakho, chahe gahne rakho, chahe jo rakho … locker ke andar kya hai aap kyun use share karoge (Nothing is right or wrong … the locker is yours … that is for your personal use … you can put a gun in it, jewellery in it or whatever you like … why should you share what is in it)?”

We get the point and change the subject. The minister’s wife wants to send some of the crores to be kept in your locker to someone she knows in England. What do we need to do?

Joshi is of little help: “England agar bhejna hai apko toh sirf or sirf … white route se ja sakta hai (If you want to sending money to England … it can be sent only via the white route).”

You will do that for us, won’t you, our reporter says. We will deposit the money in small amounts over a period of time. You have done this before so you would know better.

Avers Joshi: “Tabhi to bata rah hoon … aap poori picture clear kar lo apne hissab se … jitne bhi doubts hain saare clear kar lo (That’s why I am telling you … get a clear picture of it and clear all the doubts you have).”

Finally, he narrates his experience: “Main jab Lucknow mein tha toh main Gomti Nagar ki branch mein hi tha … wahan pe jitney bhi syndicates the … investments karwate the … unke saath kaafi dealing hoti rahti thi … aur wahan pe aapne dekha hi hoga … ya toh wahan IAS officers ke ghar hain … sub contractors ke ghar hain … bureaucrats hai … wahan black money ka flow kaafi zyada rehta tha (When I was in Lucknow, I was in the Gomti Nagar branch … all the syndicates there … would make investment … I used to see through a lot of dealings there … and as you must have seen … IAS officers have their residences there … [almost] all contractors have their homes there …. bureaucrats live there …. there is a lot of flow of black money there).”

He describes an incident: “Wahan pe ek client the, uska naam to nahin le sakta … unhone humhare through 1.5 crore ka transaction kiya (I had a client there … I can’t tell his name … he did a transaction of 1.5 crore through me).” He confirms that it was in cash.

The meeting comes to an end and we set a date for the next meeting. Joshi promises to get all the formalities done. On our way out we notice that Branch Manager Raj Kumar has arrived.

We enter his room.

Joshi informs the branch manager about the next day’s meeting and the agenda of the meeting as well. The meeting is in the evening on that weekend. The manager agrees and promises to meet us and our minister after which we say goodbye.

Our reporter tells Joshi to apprise his boss in detail of the meeting while he waits outside. After a long wait, Joshi comes out and tells us he needs the KYC documents which are required to open the accounts.

He said he discussed everything with the branch manager and he is saying: “Woh to keh rahe hain haan. Tomorrow aur ek banda ayega hamhare saath … Charan jo humare yehan pe kaam karta hai, gaya hua call pe (He is saying yes. Tomorrow another person, Charan, who works here, will come along with us. He has gone on a call).”

When we ask him if he is trustworthy, Joshi says: “Usko itna batana hi nahin na … bus batana ki investment hai (You don’t have to tell him this much … just tell me it is about an investment).”
We discuss the time of the meeting when Joshi informs that the branch manager cannot make it to the meeting. He tells us about the documents once again and asks us to bring the PAN card as well. Our reporter becomes reluctant to give the PAN card. Joshi assures: “Agar aap PAN card nahin dete ho koi bat nahin … issue kya ho jayega … fir cash deposit pe … cash deposit 50,000 ke upar PAN card toh chahiye, aur uske baad aap socho itna bada transaction shoot karne ke liye kitne deposit karne padenge (If you do not give PAN card it’s okay … there will be an issue when you will deposit cash … you need PAN card when you deposit cash above Rs. 50,000 … if you are shooting such a big transaction then imagine how many times you will have to deposit).”

We ask if any information will be leaked from there because of the PAN card.

Joshi assures: “PAN card ka itna hai ki account mein PAN card para hua hai … bus (The thing about PAN card is that it is entered in the account … that’s all).”

Satisfied, our reporter and Joshi promise to meet the next day.

On being contacted after the expose, he asks our reporter to come to his branch with money and tells us he would speak with his superior to make it happen. Again, he, like other bankers and insurers, shows us the rule book once he comes to know about Cobrapost investigation into money laundering.

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