LIC of India, Case 1; D. Luther, Chairman Club Member; T. Chopra, Development Officer; R. Nagpal, Assistant Branch Manager,  North-West Delhi

While the agents and development officer of LIC here are artful launderers, their boss Nagpal is a notch above. Nagpal says to reassure us that putting your black money in LIC is safe: “Arre Sir bata raha hoon aaj tak kabhi kuch hua hi nahin (Sir, I am telling you till date nothing [that sort] has ever happened).”

The man the Cobrapost journalist, posing as a real estate agent, walks up to in this branch of LIC, in a tony locality somewhere in North-West Delhi, happens to be D. Luther, Chairman Club Member of LIC. Our reporter puts his proposition on the table: He wants to make one-time investment of Rs. 25 lakh with LIC. Luther tries to tell him how he would get Rs. 10, 000 for life every month if he invested Rs. 15 lakh with LIC. But our reporter is not convinced and seeks to know exactly what he is going to get in returns. Thinking for a moment, Luther takes him to Development Officer T. Chopra.

Introduction over, Chopra seeks to know what avocation his prospective investor professes.We dabble in real estate business, says our reporter.

Chopra has a unique style of educating his customers. He says investing in LIC products is like buying a property and renting it out to get a regular, secured income for life. Likewise, if you invest Rs. 25 lakh, it will give you an income of Rs. 15,000 on a monthly basis depending on age. You will start getting paid after two months for the rest of your life. Even if you invest 7 lakh with LIC the appreciation of your property will not be better than this. Hereafter begins the education of our reporter on different options and the survival benefits to the insured and survivor benefits to his spouse, or nominees. Chopra too educates us on how investing with LIC is value for money, with life-time benefits. On his part, our reporter also seeks to know if the LIC entertains investment from corporate houses.

The education over, our reporter seeks to know what he needs to do to proceed with investing in what they have advised.

A cheque, and first and last pages of transactions of your bank statement, says Chopra, to fulfill the KYC norms.

But we have cash, says our reporter, expressing his inability in paying the premium by cheque.

“Haan cash de dijiyega aap (Yes, you give us cash),” says Chopra without batting an eyelid. “Cash dedjiyega …  koi dikkat nahin (Give us cash … there is no problem).” And the deposit receipt would be issued immediately. A crossed cheque of your account to which returns would be transferred through ECS, a passport for address proof and PAN card would also be required.

What if we have the taxman knocking on our doors, our reporter raises a concern, after we invest Rs. 25 lakh in cash.

Assures Chopra: “Humare yahan se koi nahin deta (Nobody sends any [report] whatsoever from here).”

He then come a better idea: “Hum aisa kar sakte hain isko hum pachees lakh ke bajaye dus dus lakh ki do bana sakte hain (We can do it like this that instead of [investing] Rs. 25 [in one chunk], we can split it into two [policies of] Rs. 10 lakh each).”

It is better if we invest our cash splitting it into two, and buy two policies instead, one in the reporter’s name and other in his wife’s name. Our reporter settles for two policies of Rs. 12.5 lakh each.

As an example, Chopra shows the receipts of four policies of the same person, created on the same day for two different amounts, to assure our reporter that his money is safe.

But tell us if you have dealt with the same case as ours, demands our reporter. In other words, hard cash. We may otherwise be served notices by the Income Tax Department.

Chopra claims to reassure us: “Nahin nahin … abhi peeche pachees lakh kisi aur ke karaye hain (No, no … only recently I have got Rs. 25 lakh invested for another fellow).”

The phone rings and Chopra gets busy on another call, while our reporter continues to share his doubts with Luther.

We still can’t believe, our reporter is in awe, investing with LIC brings you such rich dividends as life-long returns.

Luther says that it is natural for you not to believe it. But that is why my family members too have invested with LIC.

That was done in white, says our reporter, but what we have is all black money.

Our reporter is not easy to convince.

Understanding the point, Luther asks: “Saara cash hai (Is it all in Cash)?”

Yes, this is what we are telling you, returns our reporter.

Suggests Luther: “Nahin cheque kyon nahin dete beech mein … chota mota toh cheque se kar do (You don’t give some cheque sometime … make smaller investments by cheque).”

Hope, we are not served notices by the taxman, our reporter again raises the bogey.

Luther reassures: “Aisa kuch nahin aata … yahan se koi aisa nahin jaata … yahan toh croron croron aata hai (Nothing of that sort [income tax notice] comes … nothing is sent from here … crores of rupees are slipped into it [LIC]).”

Then, again suggesting us to put in some money by cheque also, Luther says: “Dono kaam ho jayenge … ye bhi hazam ho jayega wo bhi hazam ho jayega (This way both purposes will have served … this will also be digested so will be that).”

After our discussion on getting corporate entities insured is over, Luther again suggests us to split the cash: “Agar cash mein hai toh bifurcate kar do … do teen logon ke naam kar do … kuch is mahine mein, kuch agle mahine mein kar do (If it’s in cash then bifurcate it … do it in two or more individual’s name … some this month … some the next month).”

Chopra introduces our reporter to Mr. Kapoor, perhaps an LIC associate, who has been a silent observer so far in the conversation.

Kapoor proudly describes how he has helped a woman investor to invest with LIC Rs. 70 lakh, dividing the money into seven tranches of Rs. 10 lakh each. The moral of the story: Keep your investment below a certain threshold.

Our reporter again raises his concern about notices from the Income Tax Department.

Kapoor says: “Humari LIC se koi bhi information … AIR ke andar nahin jaati … hum aapka TDS bhi nahin katenege (LIC doesn’t send any information … under AIR … we will not have you bear TDS).”

We understand then it will not come into the notice of the taxman, says our reporter somewhat satisfied.

There are many clients with Kapoor who don’t declare their investments. So it is your choice if you declare it or not. Buy as many policies as you can to invest all your Rs. 25 lakh, he suggests.

Claims Kapoor: “Table ke upar hi aapse ek crore rupaya le lete the (Earlier we used to accept Rs. 1 crore from you [customers]).” But now it is no longer the case. The best option for you is buy a policy for Rs. 5 lakh each month for the next five months and claim the returns annually not monthly.

We couldn’t agree more.

Luther too shares his insight with us. Invest some money by cheque as well, he reiterates.

But Kapoor is unstoppable: “Har ek aadmi ke paas ek aisa account bhi hota hai jisko wo declare nahin karata… zarrori nahin hai ki aapke paas agar chaar account hain toh chaaron ke chaaron aapne income tax mein declare kar rakhe hain … ek aisa bhi account hota hai jahan se aapko thodi bahut upar ki amdani hai usko bhi save kart hain (Every person has an account which he has not declared in his income tax [returns] … it is not necessary that if you have four accounts you declare them all … there is always an account in which you save your extra income).”

So, put in all what you earn on the sly in that account. This is what Kapoor suggests. You can get all your returns transferred to that account only, without it coming to the notice of the taxman.

Kapoor is confident to claim: “Itna Hindustan ke andar kisi bhi Income Tax Department ke paas time nahin hai ki 10, 10 lakh rupaye ke neeche bhi … scrutinize karein (In India none of the officers of the Income Tax Departments has enough time to scrutinize [a transaction] below Rs.10 lakh).” Poor taxman!

They will ask you only when it is above Rs. 10 lakh a year, we come to know, and on regular intervals.

Satisfied thus, our reporter asks for their leave. But Luther is still not done and wants to make sure that he bags the investment deal. He takes our reporter to his Assistant Branch Manager R. Nagpal. Luther apprises Nagpal of our case and introduces him to our reporter.

When our reporter tells him that we can invest only in hard cash, kept there at home, Nagpal proposes to get the cash collected: “Koi dikkat nahin hai ji … aapke ghar se … koi do jane chale jayenge yahan se… cash le aayenge… koi dikkat nahin hai (Sir, there is no problem … [we will get it] from your house … two persons from here will go … will bring the cash … there is no problem).”

Our reporter tells him what has been suggested by Luther and other such things. Would we get the return on the money thus invested credited into our account by cheque, becoming white, our reporter asks.

Replies Nagpal: “ECS se haan … ECS hoga (Yes … through ECS).”

This is just the beginning, says the reporter, and if the current investment is seen through without hassles, then we will invest more.

Nagpal is quick to reassure us: “Aap 25 crore bhi lagaoge toh bhi theek rahega yahan pe … government company hai (If you invest Rs. 25 core, even then it will be alright here … this is a government company after all).”

But you know our case is of cash, pleads our reporter. We want to make it white.

Understanding our point, Nagpal thus allays all our apprehensions: “Koi dikkat nahi hai … humaare yahan se … ab tak koi bhi income tax ki inquiry aayi nahin hai … aaj tak nahin aayi … record hai (There’s no problem, from us … there has never been an inquiry from Income Tax [Department] sent to us … till today … it is a record).”

Our reporter again comes to corporate investment, and what is suggested does not enthuse him much. So, telling them he would bring the cash to their office three days later, he seeks to leave. But before that, he again seeks assurance from Nagpal with regard to notices from the taxman.

Nagpal is prompt to allay our fear: “Sir … koin nahin … aaj Sir bees lakh rupaye diye hain (Sir … nothing of that sort … [pointing to Luther] Sir, today itself he has given Rs. 20 lakh [for a case]).”

Really, wonders our reporter, the same as we want.

Nagpal avers: “Haan, bees lakh rupaye abhi cash jama karaye hain … raseed bhi hai inke paas aap dekh lo (Yes, [he has] got Rs. 20 lakh deposited a short while ago … if you want he can show you the receipt).”

What documents should I submit, asks our reporter.

PAN card along with age proof and residence proof, we are informed.

If we give our PAN card then won’t it show up, wonders our reporter.

Nagpal is quick to reassure us: “Na, na … kuch nahin … kuch nahin hona hai Sir … main bata raha hoon kuch nahin hona (No, no … nothing [of that sort] … nothing is going to happen … I am telling you nothing is going to happen).”

You mean nothing would happen even if I wish to bring unlimited unaccounted cash to you to invest, our reporter seeks to challenge the senior officer.

Reiterating the words of our reporter, Nagpal says: “Jitna marzi le aao (Bring whatever [cash] you wish to).”

Promise us, says our reporter.

Nagpal says again: “Arre Sir bata raha hoon aaj tak kabhi kuch hua hi nahin (Sir, I am telling you till date nothing [that sort] has ever happened).”

The meeting ends over with our reporter promising to bring the cash two days later and take the investment forward with them.

When our reporter reminds him of his meeting with him and the reiterates his proposition of investing huge amount of black money to make it white, Nagpal first says: “Branch mein kal aa jaiye (Come to the branch tomorrow).” But when our reporter reveals his identity he is quick to deny it saying: “LIC mein nahin hota (It doesn’t happen in LIC).” We follow the KYC norms and don’t accept cash beyond Rs. 50000.

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