cobrapost - April 27, 2013

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Bank of Baroda, Case 1, A. K. Gupta, Chief Manager, Parliament Street, New Delhi

A no-tension man, the banker next door knows how to make kucha paisa pucca, and has several ministers among his clientele

Posing as a frontman of a minister, the Cobrapost reporter walks straight to the desk of a senior banker. The banker is none other than A.K. Gupta, Chief Manager at this branch of Bank of Baroda on Parliament Street, New Delhi. Quickly exchanging pleasantries, our reporter tells him upfront: He is there to discuss some big, long-term investment on behalf of a minister. It has to be done in three names: the reporter, his wife and the minister’s wife. The rider: there should be no TDS and the investment must be safe.

A.K. Gupta is prompt to ask: “Amount kitna hai (What is the amount).” We have landed at the right place and are with the right person, we know now. Where have you been Mr. Gupta we have been looking for bankers like you who don’t bother to ask what the color of the money is!

About Rs. 1.5 crore, tells the reporter, and more, about Rs. 8–9 crore, is expected in the first week of March. But the problem is the entire transaction has to be done in cash. Would it be done through an account or directly, asks the reporter?

Says Gupta with nonchalance: “Koi dikkat nahin (No problem).” In between attending calls and issuing directions to his subordinates, our reporter tells Gupta can meet the minister in the evening. The point is there should be no TDS, our reporter tells him in the same breath. The purpose of investment is to make the money white.

At this point, Gupta calls one Harvinder on phone and asks him to join him immediately.
When Gupta turns to him, the reporter asks him if he would allot a locker big enough to keep some Rs. 7–8 crore of cash that the minister is expecting from some deal in the first week of March. It is a no brainer for Gupta. He asks: “Kitna ana hai (How much you are expecting).”

About Rs. 7–8 crore, reiterates the reporter. Gupta replies: “Locker mein toh araam se dus crore rakh lo … bahut bada locker hai (You can keep Rs. 10 crore easily … the locker is very big).” In the meanwhile, Gupta leaves his seat to attend some problem and returns after sometime with the fellow he had asked on phone to join in. Taking his seat he immediately briefs Harvinder on what the visitor is looking for: “Inko ek derh crore rupaye abhi aur March mein fir che–saat crore rupaye ayega … ye kisi private bank mein kahin aur jageh nahin daalna chahte investment purpose ke liye toh either … aur FDR these are the two source …mutual fund mein bhi liquid fund mein return zyada milega liquid fund mein agar daalna chahenge … toh aap ye chahte hain ki ek baar… (He has Rs. 1.5 crore and Rs. 6–7 crore will come in March … he doesn’t want to go to private bank or somewhere else for investment purpose … so either … or FDR … these are the two sources … if he wants to invest then liquid fund in mutual fund will fetch him good returns … so he wants once …).” Then turning to our reporter he seeks a meeting with the minister before investment is done: “Main wahi keh raha hoon … investment se pehle jab meeting karani hai aap bata dijiye … shaam ko bata dijiye … jab aap chahein … aur saara ek baar hum unse discuss kar lenge jo investment unhone karni hai … kya kya uska system rahega subkuch bata denge A to Z … aur meeting jab karni hai to aap humein kum se kum ek ghante ka time de dijiye (That is what I am telling you … let us know whenever you fix the meeting before the investment … tell us in the evening … whenever you want … and we will discuss with him on what investment he is going to make … what will be the system … we will tell him everything, A to Z … when you fix the meeting give us an hour’s time).”

Meeting with the minister is not a problem, tells the reporter. But first let me check his availability as well as yours.

“Humari availability hai … unki availability check kar lijiye (Our availability is there, check on his availability),” says Gupta, so eager he is to take the deal forward with the minister.

After exchanging phone numbers with our reporter, he assures: “Aap phone karenge hum log aa jayenge … koi issue nahin (When you call us we will come over … there is no issue).”

Discussing about the investment, our reporter reminds Gupta that his case is of cash.
Gupta comes up with more assurances: “Nahin aap tension mat lijiye naa… theek hai Sir detail mein discuss karenge aur jo bank ke norms ke saath hai wo batayenge … aur locker jab lena hoga toh hum locker dilwa denge (No, don’t take any tension … alright … Sir we will discuss it in detail then and whatever is per the bank norms we will tell you that … and when you require a locker we will give it to you).” Turning to his colleague, Harvinder, he tells him a locker has to be allotted to the customer when a requirement is raised. Harvinder suggests the reporter to open an account: “Account khulwa lijiye … wo toh ho hi jayega … wo toh kara hi lo na … saving ka account form le lo (Open an account … that will be done … do it … take a form for savings account).”

After Gupta has delved into the various aspects of the investment and returns on it, our reporter seeks some gross details on the return Rs. 7 crore that will be invested with the bank. Seeking to settle the issue in the course of the meeting with the minister, Gupta says: “Hum keh to rahe hain ki pehle clear baat kerenge jisne invest karna uske saath baith ke (I am telling you that first we will sit with the person who wants to invest to make everything clear).” Upon insistence of the reporter Gupta tells him that about 9–10 per cent of return is assured.
Would all the money invested come in white, asks the reporter?

Gupta is quick to reply: “Ayega toh white hi hoga kucha thodi hi hoga (When it comes it be only in white. It will not be kucha).” It is clear is Gupta knows what is kacha paisa and how to make it pucca paisa.

Harvinder asks why he is so worried. It is the case of investment in cash, tells the reporter. That is why he is asking all these questions.

Gupta reassures: “Kara lenge yaar koi tension nahin (We will manage it friend, no tension).”
Both the parties promise to meet again in the evening to take the deal forward. The reporter does not lose any opportunity of putting another poser across to the manager. The minister’s wife visits England, often, he tells Gupta. Can we send abroad some of the crores, say, in chunks of Rs. 40 lakh?
Without blinking, Gupta replies: “Haan toh bhej denge kya dikkat hai (Yes, we will send. What is the problem)?”
Never, Sir, when we have a friendly banker like you!

Please don’t disclose anything about the investment, pleads our reporter.

Gupta is a no tension man: “Main keh raha hoon tension hi nahin … ye sub kaam toh chote hain … saare mantriyon ke khaate hain (I am telling you there is no tension … all these tasks are like tidbits for me… we have accounts of all the ministers).”

We know only a man of Gupta’s caliber and experience can say such things with confidence, and we have no reason to doubt what he claims.

The meeting comes to an end with this assurance from Gupta.

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