Cobrapost |
July 26, 2011

“Aapka 50 lakh kaisa hai, black ka hai white ka hai (Is that Rs. 50 lakh of yours black or white)?”

“Aapka 50 lakh kaisa hai, black ka hai white ka hai (Is that Rs. 50 lakh of yours black or white)?”

Is it possible to invest Rs. 50 lakh of black money with his bank, asks the visitor to this branch of HDFC Bank somewhere in Central Delhi? The money is to be invested in the name of the wife of the politician he is working for, in the name of the visitor himself and in the name of his wife. Under no account should the politician be identified.

V.P. Singh, the branch head, is quite receptive to what this visitor, the Cobrapost journalist, has proposed. Singh asks straightaway: “Aapka 50 lakh kaisa hai, black ka hai white ka hai (Is that Rs. 50 lakh of yours black or white)?”

Don’t worry, he says, while suggesting several investment plans. He would help make a DD from some other bank and allot a locker, as well, to keep the cash. This is what he advises:

“Jitna bhi aapka cash hoga, thik hai, mera source hai. To main doosre bank mein kahin pe bhi cash ka DD banta nahin hai, toh cash ko convert karne ka ek doosra bank hai main uska contact saara kuchh de doonga. What they take? They take Rs. 800 per lakh. Aapka kitna ho jayega? Chalees hazar rupaye. Aap kahin nahin jaoge saara kaam main karwaunga. Pachas lakh ek saath mein hum nahin lenge. Main 50 lakh ko main divide karta hun by three, 15–15 le liya. Ab 15 lakh ke hisaab se main ek SAP product doonga jismein ki saalana teen–teen lakh ke karib dena hai 10 saal tak. Aapko main locker de doonga, locker mein aap cash rakh do (Whatever cash you have, it’s Ok. I have a source. No other bank does this but there is a bank which helps convert cash into DD. I will give their contact and all other details. What they take? They take Rs. 800 per lakh. How much you will have to spend? Around Rs. 40,000. You don’t have to go anywhere. I will manage everything for you. Let me divide Rs. 50 lakh by three, which means three lots of 15 lakh each. Now, I take 15 and will issue you a SAP product for which you will have to give 3 lakh annually for 10 years. I will also allot you a locker. Keep the cash in the locker).”

You can’t invest Rs. 50 lakh in one go, Singh reiterates: “Aap cash ka… kyunki cash 50 ka mein ek saath DD nahin hona hai … cash ka DD bhi ban jayega. DD mein aapka investment ho jayega. Aapko main locker de doonga usmein rakh dijiyega (For cash … because you don’t have to get a DD of Rs. 50 lakh in one go. We will convert the cash into DD when we require it. Your investment will be done in DD. I will give you a locker where you can keep the cash).”

What Singh is suggesting is that his bank is there to help clients like this reporter to stock their black money, and this is going to serve a specific purpose, as Singh elaborates: “Locker se aap saving mein aap dheere dheere chalees hazar pachas hazar ke neeche dheere dheere aap dalwao. .. aisa kuch nahin hai … doh–teen lakh kar ke dalwa dein. Aisa nahin ki 10 lakh dalwa dein (From the locker you can slowly transfer it into saving like around Rs. 40000–50000. There is nothing like that. You can transfer Rs. 2–3 lakh at a time, but not Rs. 10 lakh).”

Now it is time to find out if black money could be send abroad through HDFC. The journalist asks: Is it possible to send Rs. 5–7 crore kept in the locker to England? Singh says: “Uske liye aisa karna hai ki aapka ek lakh dollar tak ka saal ka aapka wo rehta hai. Ek lakh dollar ke hisaab se aapka ho gaya 50 lakh to ho gaya (What you have to do for that is … you can send up to $1 lakh a year. According to this your Rs. 50 lakh is used).”

At his point, Singh directs Maya, a junior official with the bank, to show lockers to the client.
Maya takes the journalist to the locker room and asks: “Wohi to main aapse pooch rahi hun, aap size ek baar bata dijiye (That’s what I am asking you. Tell me the size).” He would need a big locker to keep about Rs. 5–6 crore of cash there. Showing him one such locker, she says:

“Thousand ke hisaab se dekhte hain. Ye waise thik hai, 500 bhi aa sakte hain, because iska depth agar aap dekhoge na. Aapko do de denge (Let us check it according to [denominations of] 1000. This will be alright I suppose. It can also hold [currency notes of] 500 if you see its depth. We will allot you two). Are the lockers spacious enough to contain 5–6 bunches, meaning crores, in denominations of 500? Maya replies: “Saat aaram se aa jayenge. Sir yahan bahut safe hai. Sabhi rakhte hain (Seven can be kept easily here. It’s very safe with us. All the people keep their money here).”

V.P. Singh’s reaction to the investigation: Recalls the meeting but refuses to accept what all he had promised.

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