Cobrapost |
May 8, 2013

Axis Bank, Case 1: S. B. Singh,Branch Head, EastDelhi

There are many ways to launder money, says the branch head. In our case, he readily shows his hand in underhand dealings. He claims: “Sir, paisa toh bahut jagah lagwa sakta hoon … aap pehle connect ho lein fir main batata hoon (Sir, I can help you invest money at many places … first connect with us then I will tell you).”

The Cobrapost journalist walks into the chamber of Branch Head S. B. Singh at Axis Bank somewhere in East Delhi of the national capital. Introducing himself, he states the purpose of his visit in a single breath: A politician of stature wants to invest Rs. 80 lakh in some long-term schemes, with no TDS policy. The money is to be invested in three names: me, my wife and the politician’s wife.

Understanding what the client wants, Singh starts off on his own: “Dekhiye kahin se bhi aap investment avenue dhoond rahe hain toh fir toh … authorities ki nazar mein aayega … aap maan ke chaliye … aaj ki date mein aayega … koi avenue aisa nahin hai … ab sirf aisa hai ki aap thoda thoda paisa kar sakte hain … thoda thoda … usmein milega lekin aapka chaar per cent se zyada nahin milega (See, if you are looking for investment avenues … then it will come into the notice of the authorities … you should take it into account … as of the date today … it is bound to come into their notice … there is no such avenue left … the only thing now is that you can do it by putting in smaller chunks … but you will get returns not more than 4 per cent).”

All what we want is convert our black money into white.

Singh suggests some way out: “Lekin ye hai ki … Madam ka hai … Madam ke do bachche ka karaoge … teen account ho gaye … aapka ek account … aapki wife ka ek account … aapke bachche ka account … che ho gaye … che account mein saara paisa baant do(But the thing is … there is Madam’s [politician’s wife], her two kids … it comes to three accounts … your account, your wife’s account, your child’s account … it all comes to six … divide all the money into these six accounts).”

Open multiple accounts in the names of all your family members and bring all your black money into the regular banking system.

How much money can be put into these six accounts, we ask.

Singh says: “Initial stage pe aap de sakte ho… not to be quoted … aap mujhe initial funding ke naam pe handsome amount de sakte ho… dus se neeche… sub ke alag alag (You can give it in the initial stage … not to be quoted … you can give me a handsome amount as initial funding … below Rs. 10 lakh … for each).”

What is the process to be adopted?

Singh says: “Sabki initial funding ke naam se account kholo… woh funding mere paas aa jaye … account khulega aapke account mein pass ho jayega … don’t make FD… wo paisa aapka pada rahega … pada rahne de usko … uske baad aapke paas… jaise aath aath lakh rupaye de denge aap … uske baad baaki ka amount (Open all accounts with initial funding … that funding will come to me … when your account opens, it will pass on to your account … don’t make FDs … the money will lie there … let the money lie there as it is … once you give Rs. 8 lakh each … then [give the] rest of the amount).”

Would the money be routed into investment through our accounts, asks the reporter.

Singh says: “Nahin … route karne se toh … fir se risk mein aa jayega … baad mein withdraw kar lijiyega (No if you route it will again be under risk. Later you can withdraw it).”

What Singh is suggesting is as plain as vanilla: put all your moolah in savings accounts without bothering about investing it. The solution to our proposition is simple.

Would there be any problem when the money is withdrawn?

Singh says: “Na na … nikaalne mein koi problem nahin hogi (No, there would be no problem at the time of withdrawal).”
Could part of the money be routed into investment? We again ask.

Singh says: “Mutual fund mein without PAN card koi investment hota nahin hai … aapka yahan pe checking, inmein PAN card na doh toh bhi koi dikkat nahi … initial funding ke andar mein hum thodi si amount … kahiye ki hum adjust kar lete hain … kyunki wo humari books mein aata hai … humari books mein aata hai uske baad wo transfer hota hai aapke aapke naam … account khulne ke baad (There can be no investment in mutual funds without PAN card … here if you don’t give PAN card for checking there will be no issues … we can adjust some amount under initial funding … as it comes into our books … once it comes into our books it is then transferred in your name once your account opens).”

Would this information be leaked?

Singh says to assure us: “Na na ye information toh jaati hi nahin hai … ye paisa humari mutthi mein aata hai … aur wo paisa hum aapke account mein transfer kar dete hai (No, no … this information never goes out … this money comes into our hands … and thereafter, we transfer it to your account).”

The senior banker voluntarily discloses that investment of cash money is not a new practice: “Aise bahut saare log hain jo paise daalte hain … saat aath lakh rupaye jama aaram se ho jaata hai … toh che account jaise kholenge aap yahan … dheere dheere aaram se daalte rahiye(There are so many people who put in their money … Rs. 7–8 lakh is easily done … as you are opening six accounts …gradually put the money in them).”

Would any of the accounts be linked to other accounts held by the same person in some other bank?

He assures: “Nahi nahi… use koi matlab nahi… koi matlab hi nahin banta hai… wo cheez tab aati hai jab aapne humare se cheque kaat ke wahan pe jama kar diya … wo aap pe depend karta hai … aapne kar diya to hum bhi kuch nahi kar sakte (No … it has nothing to do with that … that happens when you issue a cheque of this bank to credit it to that account there … that depends upon you … if you do it, then even I can’t do anything about it).”

Now comes the locker’s issue.

We need big lockers to keep around Rs. 5–7 crore cash the politician is expecting soon.

Singh says: “Woh saara cash hoga? Woh dilwa denge … koi dikkat nahi (Will it all be in cash? Will give … no problem).”

We say we need to count the cash and need counting machines.

“Sub hai … koi dikkat nahin … bank mein itna sub chalta hai(Everything is here … there is no problem … at least this much can be done in the bank),”he assures again.

Could you suggest some other methods to convert our money into white?

Singh says: “Abhi itna kariye … fir main batata hoon aapko … thoda bahut main batata hoon aapko (Do this much now … then I will tell you … at least a little I can tell you).”

During the course of the conversation both the reporter and the branch head discuss at length about the other possible avenues available for our minister to convert black money into white.

At one point, when the reporter asks him if he can recommend some trustworthy builders for investing money, Singh says: “Sir, paisa toh bahut jagah lagwa sakta hoon … aap pehle connect ho lein fir main batata hoon (Sir, I can help you invest money at many places … first connect with us then I will tell you).”

Without revealing his name, Singh recommends a new builder who, according to him, is a good person to invest with.

The meeting ends with an assurance from the branch head that he will himself come to meet the minister in a couple of days

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