State Bank of India, Case 1, P. Kumar, Branch Manager, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

The government banker would offer us to open multiples accounts to put in our black money and give us as many lockers to keep our crores. He would even look for somebody who would send our cash abroad

This branch of State Bank of India in Noida of Uttar Pradesh is very busy with queues of customers starting from its gates, so is the personnel the Cobrapost reporter walks up to. He has to discuss about some big investment, says our reporter. Could he take him to the branch manager, to talk in private. After a long wait, the banker finally takes him to Branch Manager P. Kumar. Taking a seat, our reporter comes straight to discussing the business: A minister wants to invest some big money in his wife’s name, in some long-term plan. Could you suggest what is best, asks the reporter.

“Kaun bataya aapne (Who is that),” asks Kumar wanting to know who the minister.

Our reporter skirts the issue saying he is a minister and the investment has to be made in the name of his wife.

Kumar asks: “Account hai humare yahan na (Does she have an account with us).”

We would love to have one with your bank, says our reporter. The amount is big.

Says Kumar: “Khol denge … saving mein dalwayenge abhi … uske baad teen–chaar jageh karwa sakte ho (Will open … will put in saving right now … after that you can invest it at three–four places).”

Taking a cue, our reporter asks if we could open three accounts. It is about Rs. 5 crore. Hope there would be no problem.

Reassures Kumar: “Nahin, nahin … koi problem nahin (No, no … there will be no problem).”

Where should we invest all our crores, asks our reporter. What would be the best long-term plan for us?

Kumar says: “Long-term mein aapko bataoon … aisa hai kuch toh mutual fund mein dalwa doonga main, kuch MetLife mein dalwa doonga, kuch savings mein pada rahega, kuch FD banwa doonga (In long term, shall I tell you … it is like I will put some in mutual fund, will put some in MetLife, some will remain in saving, will put some in FD).”

Would it all be guaranteed, asks our reporter. Hope there would be no TDS.

Kumar tries to correct our reporter: “Nahin … zyada amount mein TDS toh katata hai (No, if the amount is high, then there is TDS).”

We don’t want to show it in our books as it has to be done in cash. The objective of all this investment is to convert our black into white.

Kumar reiterates, laughing: “Nahin … TDS toh fir dena padega (No … then TDS will have to be borne).”

No. It will be like committing hara-kiri as the minister’s wife may land up in jail if we showed all the Rs. 5 crore in our books. It shouldn’t get into the notice of the Income Tax Department. Our reporter gets tizzy over the suggestion of TDS.

Says Kumar in awe: “Paanch crore cash ka hai (Rs. 5 crore is all in cash).”

Yeah, that is the problem, says our reporter. I brought it myself yesterday night and it is lying at home.

Kumar says with concern: “Cash toh daalne pe toh poochenge hi wo (They will sure ask if you put in the cash).”

So, tell us how safely we can invest our cash, says our reporter.

Kumar surmises again: “Itna zyada … cash daalne pe toh poochenge hi poochenge … poochenge toh bank mein turant report ho jayegi (If you put in so much cash, then they will certainly ask … if they ask then it will immediately be reported by the bank).”

Then suggest us some other way, says our reporter, and give us a locker to keep the cash.

Says Kumar: “Locker toh de denge (Will give you the locker).”

The give us a big locker, our reporter gives his wish-list.

Kumar continues to say: “Ek saath paanch daalne pe na kya hoga ki … wo toh poochenge hi poochenge … dus lakh aur usase upar daalne par poochte hain (If you put in 5 [crore] in one shot then what will happen is they will sure ask … if you put in Rs. 10 lakh and more then they definitely ask).”

Do you mean, asks our reporter, we must put in Rs. 9 lakh in three accounts?

Agrees Kumar: “Dus dus daal dijiye … haan nau daal (Put in 10 in each … yes … put in nine).”

So, we can put in Rs. 9 lakh in tranches so that our cash gets absorbed gradually.

Concurring, says a thinking Kumar: “Haan abhi filhaal utna daal dijiye fir usmein kuch jo hai na mutual fund ka … uspe karwa denge … account mein dheere dheere daalne se na tab nahin poochenge wo (Yes, put in only that much right now … then we will put some in mutual fund … if you put in gradually then they will not ask).”

Shall we open five–six accounts with the bank, asks our reporter, or some dummy accounts?

Kumar is quick to grab the idea: “Haan, haan … paanch­–chhe account de dijye (Yes, yes … give us five–six accounts).”

Fine, says our reporter, and the manager asks to give address and ID proofs for opening accounts.

Our reporter asks Kumar to use only a method that is safe. We don’t want to rush things, and then you know there is opposition. We can’t afford to draw their attention. Safety is our prime objective.

Reassures Kumar: “Nahin, nahin (No, no).”

Do you have a big locker, the reporter asks again.

Kumar informs: “Bada nahin hai … small hai (We don’t have a big one … we have small).”

How will we be able to put in there all our crores in bills of 500?

Offers Kumar to give us three lockers instead: “Dono teeno ko de denge locker … teeno ko de denge ek ek (Will give a locker to both, to all the three … will give one each to all the three).”

Will you also provide us a counting machine to count the currency notes, asks our reporter, so that we are able to count the notes and put the cash in the locker?

Nodding his head, Kumar agrees to do it for us: “Haan karwa doonga (Yes, I will get it done).”

So, shall I bring the cash in the evening asks our reporter. Or shall I come at 5 o’clock?

Kumar asks to bring cash at about 3 o’ clock. Then, they both exchange their numbers to keep in touch for the purpose. He has some relative visiting him in the bank so he wants to do it a little earlier.

Hope, this information will not go out, says the reporter, and we won’t face any problem later.

Reassures Kumar: “Nahin aisa nahin … wo usmein nahin … koi dikkat nahin (No, there is nothing like that … nothing in that … there will be no problem).”

Kumar asks one of his subordinates to give the reporter half a dozen account opening forms. Then our reporter says he would finish all the formalities first and then take the next step. Kumar is eager to know where the minister stays in Noida.

Giving the name of the minister’s wife our reporter swears Kumar to secrecy. You know how the ministers earn, and then you have to manage all their money. Can you suggest some other ways to invest and make our money white, asks the reporter. Maybe through some other accounts, maybe using some dummy accounts. Or, maybe some builder who can take it all. But suggest someone who is trustworthy.

Kumar is however of little help. The conversation, therefore, moves to the formalities of account opening. How much cash we can put in our accounts, asks our reporter. If it is fine, we may as well put in about Rs. 1–1.5 crore in our accounts, upon his advice. But suggest us only a way which is safe and tell us how much cash we can put in which you will be comfortable.

Kumar first casually agrees on all counts but then chooses to be on the safe side to suggest: “Paanch paanch daalna filhaal … paanch paanch daalke fir ek doh mahine ke andar na tab karenge (Put in only Rs. 5 [lakh] right now … after putting in Rs. 5 [lakh] we will do it again one or two months later).”

We will do as you suggest, says our reporter, thankfully.

The minister’s wife often goes to England where she has some relatives. She wants to send some of the crores to them in England. Tell us how it can be sent abroad in tranches of Rs. 40–50 lakh, asks the reporter.

Asks the manager: “Kaise bhejenge wo (How would she send it)?”

In cash, replies our reporter. Kumar promptly says it is not a big deal and she herself can withdraw the cash and take it there.

It is not advisable. Tell us if somebody you know who can help us in overseas transfer of the cash, our reporter says, maybe someone who does hawala. We will pay whatever fee he charges but the person should be reliable.

Kumar is of not much help. But after thinking hard, he says: “Pata karta hoon main … pata karta hoon main (Let me check it … let me check it).”

But the person should be trustworthy, emphasizes our reporter.

Says Kumar: “Poochta hoon main … meri jaankari mein filhaal toh nahin hai (I will ask somebody … right now there is no such person in my knowledge).”

Don’t worry, says our reporter. It has to be done in March, and you have enough time to bring in someone in the loop for the job.

The reporter wraps up the meeting with a promise to take the deal forward the same evening.

When our reporter reiterates that we have Rs. 2¬–3 crore to invest with the bank, he asks the reporter to visit the banks next morning. However, he is quick to change his instance one the reporter reveals his identity, to say: “Ye toh bahut galat hai (This is really wrong).”
Half an hour later, Kumar calls the reporter to ask him to come to his branch to settle the issue


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