Cobrapost - April 27, 2013

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Indian Overseas Bank, Case 2: M. K. Pandey, Assistant Manager, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

Pandey is a cautious manager with solutions to most problems. He will go all the way, but will go slow. He is okay with investing black money in accounts and in insurance policies, and parking it in lockers. He can have the cash counted at the bank. And he can arrange for an existing current account holder to route the cash for a fee. With such experts to convert black money into white our banks are in good hands.

Entering the bank at the busy section of an upscale business centre of Noida in Uttar Pradesh, the Cobrapost journalist is directed to the desk of Assistant Manager M. K. Pandey. The moment the official arrives, we present our case quickly: A minister wants to make some long-term investment in three names: me, my wife and the minister’s wife. There should be no TDS?

Pandey offers a tax saving scheme which yields about 9 per cent interest but our funds would be blocked for 5 years, and it is not an insurance scheme.

We want to invest Rs. 50–60 lakh immediately, says our reporter, and Rs. 5–7 crore more in March. Let the money lie unnoticed in the minister’s wife’s name for a long time in a safe place, and a government bank is a good place. The money is all in hard cash. The purpose: Make it white.

The mention of our huge unaccounted cash and our purpose doesn’t seem to perturb the officer. He takes a moment to think, before saying: “Dekhiye do–teen cheez ka investment usmein kijiye … ek cheez mein mat kijiye … Tax Saver kara lijiye … aap … gold coin mein investment kar sakte hain (Put your money in investments in two–three things … don’t invest all in one … invest in the Tax Saver … you … go for investment in gold coins).”

Instead of putting all our money in a single product, he advises us, we must go for a diversified portfolio.

We say fine, let’s do this. What about a kilogram of gold?

But the officer issues a warning: “Ek kg … fir toh aapko PAN number fir dena padega (One kg … then you will have to provide the PAN number).”

We take a step back. Please get things done without the PAN, we implore.

The option is in smaller quantity: “Aap chote chote amount par … 10 g, 20 g karke aap kharidiye (You buy it in small amounts … 10 g, 20 g).”

While he is checking on the price of the gold, our reporter invites him to over to meet our minister. Pandey agrees to meet the next day.

We ask if there are other options which might help us convert all our black money into white as quickly as possible. The amount is big, about Rs. 5–7 crore.

Pandey raises his eyebrows: “Paanch–saat crore … toh thoda sa … thoda sa karna padega … kuch business mein bhi aap involved hain (Rs. 5–7 crore … it will have to be done in bits and pieces … Are you engaged in some business)?”

We avoid answering, saying instead that we have done a bit, but now we want to divert the money from there.

Pandey comes up with the first solution: “Agar ek hi account mein karenge toh … teen– chaar account pehle khulwa dijiye (If you do it through one account then … first get three–four accounts opened [instead]).”

We say we are ready to open four–five accounts.

Pandey suggests: “Aur koi business wagaireh hai toh uska current account khulwa dijiye … usmein sub … circulate karta rahega (And if you have any business, then open a current account here … all [the money] will keep circulating).”

A good idea, we appreciate it.

He adds to advise: “Aur future mein gold mein … invest kijiye (And in future, invest in gold).”
We dangle the carrot. Do you have any trusted company account holder (current account) through which the money could be routed? We will pay the charges.

Help is at hand: “Hai … unse mein aapki baatcheet karwa doonga (Yes, there is [someone] … I will get you talk to him).”

He, however, warns that it might not be possible for big amounts: “Haan … amount bhi achanak nahin karen … thoda thoda (Oh yes, don’t put in all the money all of a sudden … [do it] in smaller chunks).”

We assure him that we are aware of this and we will certainly do what he advises. The person should be trustworthy and should have done such transactions before.

Pandey assures us: “Wo bhi microfinance … mein kaam kar raha hain (He deals in microfinance).” He has some other options for it: “Kuch insurance karwa lein … aur gold mein karwayein … agar aap iske naam se … uske naam se lete hain … koi record nahin uska (Get some insurance done … and do invest some in gold … if you buy in the names of different people … there will be no record of that).”

We find this a good option, especially since carrying the gold would be easier.

Pandey tells us the best part of the scheme now: “Uske baad mein transaction karte ho, cheque ke through … toh white ho gaya aapka … aur aap payment to cash mein kar sakte ho … koi dikkat nahin hai (After that you can do transactions … through cheques … your money will become white … and you can pay in cash, no problem in that).”

And all that has to be done in smaller chunks.

It was this convincing set of transactions in small amounts that suits us. Pandey’s stint with Indian Overseas Bank is three years running. Before that he was with SBI, after his stint with LIC. This is his experience talking.

So we can invest in LIC? Do you have a tie-up with them? Pandey says yes, IOB are corporate agents for LIC, and all the money would be routed through the accounts we would be opening.

We ask if he has done this before, without trouble.

Pandey tells us: “Nahin itne bade amount ka to nahin (No, never for such big amounts).” Smaller amounts!

Would there be problems?

He warns us: “Aap aaj account khulwaya aur kal transaction karein, toh usmein toh problem hai … diya, fir nikala … diya fir nikala aise … usmein koi problem nahin hogi (If you open an account today and do the transactions tomorrow, there will be problems … you deposit and you withdraw … you deposit and you withdraw … there is no problem).”

He repeats his advice of smallish transactions over time. We cannot but agree.

We come to the second point. We say that keeping so much cash at home is risky. So please arrange a big locker for us. But he has only mid-size lockers and the size doesn’t seem to accommodate Rs. 5–7 crores in bills of 500. So could you please arrange for two such lockers?

“Dekh lenge wo toh (Will see that),” he says.

We ask him to send a request for lockers now, so when the money comes in March, it has a ready safe house.

What he says assures us: “Us samay aisa requirement hoga toh hum aapko alag alag naam se do locker available kara denge … ek naam se nahin do naam se (If at that time such a requirement arises, then I will arrange two lockers for you in two names, not in one name).” Plus, we say, the counting of the cash has to be done, and this should be organised.

The government banker asks us to inform him a couple of days before the big cash arrives.

On insurance, he says: “LIC wagaireh bhi jo hai woh … matlab amount de dijiyega aap … jab itna bada amount aa raha hai toh dus ya pandrah lakh to aapke single premium mein karwa dijiye (Now about [investment in] LIC … I mean, give us the amount … since you are investing such a big amount, put in Rs. 10–15 lakh in single premium).”

We ask if all our money would be returned as white, through cheque.

“Haan (Yes),” Pandey says.

We again clarify, it will be returned in white, and into the account.

Replies Pandey: “Agar aap insurance sector mein le rahe ho, ya fir kahin aur mein invest kar rahe hain, toh wo toh apka white ho jayega (If you are investing in the insurance sector, or investing somewhere else, then that will become white).”

We agree. We say that this was what our CA has advised us anyway.

Pandey provides another method to hedge risk: “Isi tarike se kar payenge, aur frankly speaking, ye aap ko ek-do bank mein bhi visit karna hai (This is the way you can get it done … and frankly speaking, you have to visit one or two other banks).”

Our reporter suggests he would set up a meeting with the minister the next day to move forward. We would do as guided by the banker. But none of this information should be disclosed because it involves a minister.

Pandey assures: “Koi disclosed nahin hoga (Nothing will be disclosed).”

Two issues taken care of, we move to the third case. We detail how the minister’s wife is a frequent traveller to England and that she wishes to transfer Rs. 40–50 lakh from the crores that would be kept in the lockers to somebody there.

Pandey informs us that it would be done through their Connaught Place branch, in Delhi.
We say that this would be his responsibility.

He says: “Woh to hum karayenge … letter lekin aapko dena padega … CA se certificate dena padega (I can have that done, but you will have to give me a letter … provide me with a certificate from your CA).”

Money can’t be transferred abroad with this certificate declaring that the party has paid tax. Otherwise, RBI is informed of this transfer.

We withdraw from the money transfer issue and set time for the meeting. We shake then hands and part

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