cobrapost |
July 26, 2011


Gayathri and Sridhar understand instantly that black money has to be turned into white because they deal with so many such customers

The guard at this branch of ICICI Bank somewhere in Bangalore directs the Cobrapost reporter to Branch Manager Gayathri. The Cobrapost reporter gives her the same spiel.

Initially, Gayathri educates the reporter on investment plans: “Sir, you can invest up to 10 lakhs not 50 lakhs.” When she deals with these sorts of cases, is there any trouble from the Income Tax Department, the reporter asks? Gayathri says: “Nothing … 100 per cent sure.” Not feeling comfortable speaking Hindi or English, Gayathri sends for her colleague, Sr. Customer Service Associate C. Sridhar, who joins in shortly. Gayathri briefs Sridhar in Kannada and he takes over the education of their prospective customer.

But I have to invest in cash, the reporter tells him and it should not come to the notice of the tax authorities. The money has to be made white. Sridhar asks, “Black ka white karna hai (You mean black has to be made white).”

He goes on: “Agar chahe to 50 lakh ek hi time one time kar sakte ho … nahin to ten ten lakhs aise aise (If you wish you can put in Rs. 50 lakh one time … otherwise do it like 10 lakh at a time).”

The reporter emphasizes that there should be no notices from the Income Tax Department.
Gayathri: “Sir see, there won’t be any problem.” Sridhar: “Abhi chahe to poora 50 lakh daal sakte hain …ek time… koi problem nahin hai … cash daalne se pehle hum kya poochhte hain aapka PAN card, bank statement aur income proof (If you wish you can put in all Rs. 50 lakh right away one time … there is no problem … before putting in the cash what all we ask for is your PAN card, bank statement and income proof).”

In fact, they even offer to manage without a PAN card. Says Gayathri: “Even if you have problem in giving PAN card also, we will manage.” Sridhar agrees: “We will manage.” So should I bring the 50 lakh cash here for counting or will you pick it up from my residence, asks the reporter. “Ghar se (from home, says Sridhar).

Have they done such deals earlier, asks the reporter? Sridhar: “Kiya hai … kiya hai (We have done, we have done).” Gayathri: “You are not the first customer.” When the reporter says that the politician involved is a big name, Sridhar says: “Wo sab daala hai… aap chahe toh… policy history dikha sakta hun (They all put in their money … if you want I can show you their policy history).”

According to him, there is no dearth of powerful clients: “Humare Bangalore mein thoda kum ho gaya … Mumbai and all mein politician zyada hai … Bihar mein to politician hi daalta hai paisa insurance mein (Bangalore has fewer such customers nowadays … there are more in Mumbai and in all places the politicians are more … there in Bihar only politicians invest in insurance). Gayathri chips in here: “We are for the customers’ sake … you are not the first customer to invest like this …there are so many.” Gayathri adds a line on secrecy: “We will not expose this to anybody… it will be a problem to our bank.”

After allaying such fears, Sridhar goes on to suggest how the client should buy multiple insurance policies in the names of different family members. Would this be safe, asks the reporter again? Gayathri: “One customer came and invested 90 lakhs…90 lakhs cash in this table only…I have only counted that cash … yes … yes… just one month back one customer came and invested 90 lakhs… this is not the first customer.”

For taking the deal forward, the relationship manager or zonal manager would come to the customer’s residence, Sridhar says. As the talk progresses, Sridhar comes back to the submission of mandatory documents such as a PAN card, ITR etc. But we will be in a bind, says the reporter. Gayathri tells her colleague the client doesn’t want to submit incriminatory documents like a PAN. Sridhar comes up with a solution: “Political expert person questionnaire hai humare paas … wo fill up kiya to kaafi hai … political expert person … matlab political expert person matlab HNI customer … high profile customer hai… high profile customer ko service khud hi ghar ko milta hai (For political persons we have a form. Filling that is sufficient. Political expert person means HNI customer … he is a high profile customer. A high-profile customer gets all services at his home).”

That is not a solution at all, says the reporter, as it won’t shield the politician from the probing eyes of the Income Tax authorities. We simply don’t want to show it to them as it is black money.

Gayathri says: “Actually we know all these things…we know … see we have these type of so many customers.” Sridhar too understands the sensitivity of the case as the customer involved is a well-known politician. And both Gayathri and Sridhar are prepared to go the extra mile to manage the investment, even to the point of coming to the house of the frontman, our reporter, to count the currency notes. Gayathri says: “We will come to your house.”
You did the right thing by not going to LIC for investment, they tell the reporter. “Aap accha kiya private company mein koi bolta nahin hai, LIC gaya hota na government mein … government control hai na … immediately khabar deta (You did a right thing by coming to a private company… here nobody asks … had you gone to LIC they would have had immediately informed the government as it is under the government control).”

The meeting comes to a close with both parties agreeing to meet again in the evening at the client’s place to take the deal forward.

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