Cobrapost |
July 26, 2011

A refined man that Chopra is, he will never ask the colour of the money, and help make it white whichever way we want, PAN or no PAN routing it through sundry accounts, even get us a fake PAN

A refined man that Chopra is, he will never ask the colour of the money, and help make it white whichever way we want, PAN or no PAN routing it through sundry accounts, even get us a fake PAN

When the Cobrapost reporter announces he has to discuss a ‘handsome investment’ to the receptionist at this branch of Axis Bank somewhere in Calcutta, he is politely asked to be seated. Some moments later, an affable N. Chopra, Assistant Manager, comes to him. After pleasantries, out reporter comes straight to talking business: He intends to invest Rs. 50 lakh in long-term plan which fetches good returns. If the tuning is good the investment will increase.

The underlying message is not lost on Chopra and he immediately takes the visitor to his cabin.Chopra suggests LGP, a 6-year premium plan, maturing after 20 years. Then he explains at length how the money paid in lump sum will be invested in FDs year-wise and route the money into the plan as and when required. The idea is to maximize returns. This way the customer not only gets returns from the plan after its maturity but also returns from the accumulated interest earned on FDs. Chopra says: “Basically hum kya karte hain yahan pe … ye Priority Branch hai… Eastern India matlab poore India mein ye aath Axis ka branch hai (Basically what we do here is … this is a Priority Branch … in Eastern India I mean in the whole of India it’s Axis’ eighth such branch) … we design our customer’s portfolio … hum aise design kar dete hain ki (we design in such as way that the) customer doesn’t have to worry about their returns.” Wow, this is called Priority Banking.

Fine, right now we will invest in three names: the politician’s wife, his relative, the reporter himself, and his wife. It has to be invested in a day or two, and Rs. 50 lakh cash is lying at my home, says the reporter.

How much cash will be comfortable for you to deal with, asks the reporter. What all we have is in black.

Returns Chopra: “PAN card de paoge aap (Would be able to give PAN card).”
But then if you gave you PAN card won’t it come to the notice of Income Tax people, says the reporter.

It dampens the spirits, as Chopra says: “PAN card ke bina kaise karenge Sir itna amount jo rahega toh (How can it be done when the amount is so much).” Then, why don’t you suggest both ways, with PAN card or without, the reporter asks?

Chopra dons his thinking caps. After some time he asks for documents and says: “Cash mein hi rahega? Cheque de sakte ho kya mujhe? Tab PAN card ka zaroorat nahin rahega (Will it be all in cash? Can you give me a cheque? Then PAN card will not be required).”

That is no solution, man. How can I give you a cheque when I have black money, asks the reporter? Chopra tries to convince the client: “Black hai paisa to Sir ek kaam ker sakte hain … matlab PAN card aap mujhe dijiye … matlab wo toh reflect nahin hoga because aapke accounts doosre bank mein hain toh usase hum kar sakte hain, Sir (If the money is black then Sir we can do one thing … I mean you give me your PAN card … I mean that will not reflect because we can do it using the accounts you have in other bank).”

We never knew if we could do it through other bank accounts without our PAN card being reflected. Would you please explain a bit how it would be possible, the reporter probes further
Chopra claims that since it is not traced by the Income Tax Department, it would be safe to invest with PAN: “Main aapko bata raha hun jab wo hota hai aapka PAN Card… jab Income Tax uthate hain toh every bank mein kitna accounts hai customer ka pehle dekhte hain aapka … Sir ek hi PAN card hai kya (I am telling you when there is your PAN card … when the Income Tax people pick up they see how many accounts does a customer hold with every bank. Sir, do you have only one PAN card)?” Yes, I have one, tells the reporter.

Chopra carries on with elaborating how he will serve us best: “Hum log kya karenge… dekhiye Sir… dus lakh koi bada amount nahin hai…teen jan ke naam pe aap split kar rahe ho…koi bada amount nahin hai … you don’t have to worry about that … ye cash mein ho raha hai no one knows … ye toh humara internal baat rahega …main branch manager se confirm kar leta hun kyunki yeh bahut bada amount hai cash mein jo hone wala hai … toh main unse baat karke … main aapko shaam ko Sir ja ke we will settle… sign wign karwake sub kuch (Now what we will do… you see Sir 10 lakh is not a very big amount… you are splitting it in three names … that is not a big amount … you don’t have to worry about that… no one knows that this is being done in cash … it is our internal matter … I will confirm it after talking to the branch manager because what is going into investment is a big amount of cash, so after talking to him I will come to you in the evening to settle everything and get your sign and all formalities completed).”

Keeping your superiors in loop is always wise bunny when you are handling black money!
As it is huge cash was huge, it will be difficult to bring it to the bank, tells the reporter? Chopra is prompt to lend help: “Hum cash van bhej denge … cash van mein ho jayega (We will send cash van… cash van will be arranged).”

And what about counting the currency notes?
It will also be taken care of by the bank itself with their counting machine. Chopra says: “Haan…ye separate aapka conference room hai … aap jab account bhi kholenge na to matlab aap agar Priority Account kholenge toh you can access… (Yes, there is a separate conference room. Whenever you open an account, I mean a Priority Account … you can access it) … Suppose, aapke business purpose ke liye aapko kabhi conference room chahiye toh (Suppose, you need it for your business purpose) you can access the lounge and conference room as well.”

Holding a Priority Account with this bank brings you all such privileges!
Please keep all your superiors in the loop, pleads the reporter, about our account and our money, so as to make it safe for future.

Says Chopra reassuringly: “Haan haan wo to main Sir sabko knowledge mein doonga isiliey to main baitha hun yahan pe (Yes, yes, Sir, I will certainly bring it to the knowledge of all concerned. That is why I am sitting here).”

But we will invest only when you assure us that our PAN card will not show up and only when you have done similar transactions like ours, the reporter makes it clear.
Chopra immediately starts elaborating upon his modus operandi, how he is going to make it happen for us: “Main suggest karunga aapko aap teen account khol lo…teen account khol ke…wahan se hum log karenge ki kisi ko koi nahin … Sir aajkal dus lakh rupayee kya hain…dus pandrah lakh rupaye kuch nahin hai … income tax jo crorepati jo hote hain unko pakrenge ki aapko pakrenge (I will suggest you to open three accounts. We will do it in such a way that nobody knows… Sir what does Rs 10 lakh mean today? 10 lakh–15 lakh means nothing. Will the Income Tax people catch the millionaires or you)?”

But then my master is a politician and he might get into trouble, cautions the reporter. We are not using the name of the minister, Chopra is quick to counter the fear, so why worry. Saying that what he would like to proceed with is first build trust so that the client comes back with repeat investment requests. Now, what he says is quite revealing: “Sir main aapko aur ek cheez suggest karoonga. Sir agar hota hai to ek PAN card aise bana lenge …bahut customer yahan pe hain doh PAN card unhone bhi rakhe hue hain … main off the books bol raha hun aapko (Sir, I will suggest you one more thing. If it can be arranged I will get you a PAN card. There are many customers who carry two PAN cards. I am telling you this off the books).” Wow, it will be nice if he does us this favour! Great! A fake PAN card! What an idea Sirji! Hats off to you!
But do what is safest, says the reporter.

Chopra goes on to suggest that he would do it even without PAN card: “Aapka main teen naam mein karwaoonga … koi problem nahin hoga…to start with… yahan pe problem hua … jahan pe kya karenge in future … aapke naam pe ho sakta hai ki PAN card nahin lage … PAN card ke bina wo karenge (I will open accounts in three names for you. There would be no problem to start with. If there is a problem later … then what we will do in future is if it is possible we will not attach the PAN card. We will do it without PAN card).” Nothing can get better for us than this, buddy!

Do whatever you think is best but keep your superiors posted about it, the reporter would say, to make it safe. Chopra says: “Unko inform kar ke hi sir… itna bada cash jab le rahe hain … unko inform kar ke hi loonga (We will have to inform them, Sir. When I am accepting this big amount of cash, then I will take it after informing them only).”

Should the money be routed through the account which you will open with Axis Bank? Would it be safe? Sometimes, our reporter has some intelligent suggestions to offer.
Chopra offers: “Sir usmein main confirm kar leta hun … main kya karoonga ki agar account mein reflect karega to wo account aap chhe–saat mahina–aath mahina dus mahina baad close karke fir ek naya account khol ke waise karenge taki aankh mein pare nahi (Sir, I will get it confirmed. What I will do is if it reflects in the account, then after 6, 7, 8, 10 months we will close the account and open a new account. We will do like this so that it does not come to anybody’s notice).”

Nothing like it, man, we say!
Do it in way that it doesn’t come to anybody’s notice, our reporter chips in.
Reassures Chopra: “Nahin padega Sir wo humara mamla hai… hum dekhenge kaise safe rahega customers ke liye…ye matlab… agar sundry account mein fenk ke wahan se hum log pay order karke nikal sakte hain… toh well and good … wahan nahin karke toh account se route kar ke fayda rahega customer ko toh wahan se route karenge (It’s our business … we will see to it how it would be safe for the customers … I mean … if we dump it in the sundry account, then we can take it out in the form of pay order … then well and good … if we cannot do it using that account, then for the benefit of the customer we will do it routing through the account).”

Chopra enlightens us about this phenomenon called ‘sundry account’ when the reporter asks him which will be the best thing to do?

Chopra goes on to explain what a sundry account is and how he will use it: “Main samajhta hun account ke through route kar denge … dekhiye aap mujhe dus lakh rupaya de denge humein cash mein…dus lakh rupaye diye that’s all… account khul gaya…aur jo para hua hai…hum apne sundry account mein fenk ke rakhenge … sundry account se uthake fir aapke account mein fund kar denge… wahan se nikalenge (I think we will route it through account. See, you will give me Rs. 10 lakh cash … you give me Rs. 10 lakh that’s all. Account gets opened and we will put the money kept with us in our sundry account. We will then pick it up from the sundry account and fund it into your account. We will take it out from there).”

What this sundry account is all about, interrupts the reporter?
Chopra continues: “Sundry account humara internal account hota hai…suppose koi savings account khol rahe hai to unse initial deposit humein kuch lena parta hai…cash liye cheque liye… to wo account mein itnitially hum customer ka matlab cash ya cheque … uske bina hum account nahin khol sakte … cash lete hain to sundry account mein daal ke jaise hi account khulta hai to customer ke account mein file kar dete hain (Sundry account is our internal account. Suppose, somebody is opening a savings account, we are required to take some initial deposit for the same. May be cash or may be cheque. So we initially take cash or cheque from the customer. We don’t open the account without it. When we take the cash, we put it in the sundry account and as soon as the account opens for the customer we file it in the customer’s account).”

So, sundry account is going to help us make our money clean.
It will be done this way, both without pan card and with sundry account, says the reporter, which is safest.

Chopra educates him further: “Jo safest rahega Sir dekhiye ek baar account khul jayega to koi problem hoga hi nahin…main aapko bata raha hun … account ke through route karenge pehle… aur jab future ayega to hum dekh lenge kaise kya karna hai. Agar hota hai to PAN card bana ke (Which is safest Sir …you see once an account is opened, there is no problem. I am telling you. We will route it through the account and in future we will see how to do it. If need arises then we can make the PAN card). We can do that as well.

Why don’t we settle all in the evening, asks our reporter? The manager agrees to bring along his branch head to take the deal forward in the evening at the residence of the client in the presence of the minister.

After almost all the ground is covered, the reporter comes up with another question.
The politician’s wife often visits Jordan. She wants to transfer some of the cash to Jordan. Can it be done through NRI account if we open one for her?

Chopra explains in detail how it can be done through NRE/NRO account. But all such transactions are subject to various regulatory guidelines and are of not much help. Then, a customer cannot hold two accounts, both NRO and NRE accounts, at the same time. It will constitute a fraud.

Nonetheless, Chopra is willing to lend help to open one such account provided an overseas address proof is submitted. He says: “Ya khol sakte hain agar naam mein kuch ye rahe… toh wo main karwa doonga (We can open it if there is something in her name … then I can get it done).” After such an account is opened, 50–60 per cent of the money could be routed through it. As per RBI guidelines, one can’t take offshore more than one lakh dollars per business trip.

The meeting concludes with a promise to wrap up the deal at the residence of the client.

N. Chopra’s reaction to the investigation: He recalls everything, then says no comment. 

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