cobrapost |
April 27, 2013


State Bank of India, Case 3, A. K. Jain, Relationship Manager (Personal Banking), Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh

Put in your unaccounted cash in our lockers, take out in tranches to route it into investment through an account, and make it white. The banker with three decades of experience is ready to play ball with this assurance: “Bilkul aap nishchint rahein humare saath jo bhi kaam hoga (Sure, be assured about whatever job we will do)”

When the Cobrapost journalist walks into this branch of State Bank of India in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, with his proposition, he is directed to Relationship Manager A. K. Jain. Telling him he has to discuss some investment, our reporter quietly takes a seat as the senior banker is busy doing his routine work while dealing with another customer. As the banker turns to our reporter, he straightaway proffers his proposition: He has to invest Rs. 50 lakh on a long term in three names. There should be no TDS. But then he seeks information on TDS on FDs, which doesn’t enthuse our reporter and he asks the banker about some other instrument.

The banker tells him about some other investment option and the benefits it entails. However, our reporter is not comfortable discussing his proposition and seeks to do it “separately”. Understanding the point, the banker agrees. After a long wait, the banker is finally done with the customer. Then, A. K. Jain takes our reporter to a separate table.

It portends well for us as we know we are with a right, customer-friendly banker.

As soon as they take their seat, our reporter tells the banker who he is working for. A well-known politician wants to invest Rs. 50 lakh in some long-term plan with handsome returns, say, after 10 years, with no TDS. The investment has to be done in three names: me, my wife and his wife. We are related by marriage. More big money, about Rs. 5–7 crore, is expected in February. Now, advise where we should invest our money.

Apparently in awe, Jain says to suggest: “Paise ko diversified karke rakhein … kuch is scheme mein … kuch is scheme mein … kuch is scheme mein … toh ek toh aapko PAN dena parega (Keep your investment diversified … put some in this scheme … some in this scheme …. some in this scheme … then you will have to give your PAN card).”

What, PAN card, asks our reporter. You mean we all three will have to give the PAN card.
Jain is quick to ask: “PAN number nahin hai (You don’t have PAN number).”

The problem is it is all in cash, our reporter informs him. How will we do it with PAN?

Says Jain with a concern in his voice: “Cash mein dus lakh se upar ka agar aap transaction kerenge toh report ho jaati hai automatic (If you invest in cash … above Rs. 10 lakh then it is reported automatically).”

Then we can do it a little lower, says our reporter, in tranches of Rs. 9 lakh each. Both I and my wife will give you our PAN cards but do it without PAN card for the minister’s wife.

Agreeing to do as suggested by our reporter, Jain says: “Kar dijiye (Go ahead).”

Should we do it through an account, asks the reporter. Where should we put in our money?

Yes do it as you said, says Jain, and put in your money in FDs.

But then if we invest our money in FDs, we would have to show it in our books. This is the last thing we want. What about investing in insurance? The point is we want to make our money white, and there will be no TDS.

Agrees Jain: “Haan white ho jayega (Yes, it will become white).”

Exactly, this is what my master, the minister, wants. Our reporter then asks for his number and tells him if it is fine with him, he can arrange a meeting with the minister in the evening. The banker is happy to promptly give him his visiting card and mobile number.

The minister is expecting Rs. 5–7 crore in February, says the reporter, from a deal in Greater Noida. Would your bank give us a locker big enough to safe keep this much cash there?

Jain agrees promptly to give us three lockers instead: “Nahin … bada toh nahin hai humare paas … lekin hum do ya teen de denge aapko … hum toh dus de denge (No, we don’t have a big locker … but will give you two–three lockers … we will give 10 lockers).”

All the crores that we will bring directly to your bank to put in those lockers there will all be in bills of 500. Do you think two lockers will be enough to keep all the cash?

Jain is quick to come up with a solution: “Chaar lelo locker … locker lene mein kya dikkat hai … chaar locker de doonga … sau sau rupaye ke chaar stamp de dijiye (Take four lockers … what is the problem in asking for the lockers … I will give you four lockers … submit stamps of Rs. 100 each).”

We would require this service in February, says our happy reporter.

Proffers Jain: “Aap ye sub kaam toh pehle kar lijiye na (You first finish all these tasks).”
This will be taken care of when you send your colleague over to us, says the reporter. If it is convenient, you too can come to meet the minister to take the deal forward. Our reporter is quick to invite Jain.

Jain is curious to know who the minister is: “Kya naam hai mantriji ka (What is the name of the minister).”

Why ask the name, says the reporter, when you are going to meet him in person. Giving him his mobile number to stay in touch for the purpose, our reporter asks Jain if he could suggest some more avenues of investment, so that we could convert our “kache ka paisa into pukke ka paisa”; in other words, make our black money white.

Avers Jain: “Nahin ye badhiya hai (No, this is the best).”

You mean, says the reporter, insurance is the best.

Concurring, Jain says: “Sabse best hai… bank mein kar denge kuch ismein kar denge … tukdo mein kar denge … dheeme dheeme kar denge … ek saath nahin karenge (This is the best … some we will do in bank [savings instruments] … some we will do in it … we will do it in parts … we will do it slowly, we will not do it in one go).”

What senior banker Jain is suggesting is create for us a diversified portfolio and invest our money in tranches.

We will do as you suggest, says our reporter understanding his point. We are definitely not in a hurry.

Jain reiterates: “Nahin … paisa aap chahe khate mein daal dena … lekin wo tukdo mein jayega (No … if you wish you can put the money in your account … but it will go in parts).” So, split the money is the mantra, to make the investment of this big cash happen.

You mean, says our reporter, we should keep the cash in your lockers and then put it in our accounts in smaller tranches for it to be routed into investment.

Jain is quick to second our reporter: “Locker se nikaal ke usmein daalte rahenge … locker se nikaal ke yahan rakhenge wahan daal … usmein (We will keep on putting in there after taking it out from the locker … taking it out from the locker we will keep it here [in the account] … put in there … in that).”

The modus operandi of making our crores of black money white is now clear to us: open an account, put all the crores in the lockers, take out the cash in parts from the lockers to put it into the account and invest it.

The banker is curious to know where the minister belongs to: “UP mein hi hain mantri (He is a minister in UP).”

Why worry when you are going to meet him in person, says the reporter, in a lighter vein. Uttar Pradesh is small. In other words, our minister is from the Centre. He then seeks assurance from the banker that whatever he would do to help us or suggest us to make our money white should be safe.

Jain is quick to reassure us: “Bilkul … safe … yahan sub safe kaam hi hota hai (Absolutely … safe … here whatever we do is all safe).”

We don’t have any reason to not believe what Jain is promising us, because the senior banker is all in all in this big branch and has been working with this bank for the past 32 years in Aligarh. Jain is proud to say all this while our reporter talks some sweet nothings.

Encouraged by the bonhomie of the moment, our reporter now comes to the last of his wish-list.

This minister’s wife is a frequent flier to England. We will have kept our Rs. 5–7 crore in your lockers. Now tell us if we could send England some Rs. 2–3 crore in tranches of Rs. 40–50 lakh with your help.

Jain is prompt to say: “Wo toh fir uske through jaata hai … hawala ke through jayega ya toh (Then, it will go through that … or it will be sent though hawala).”

So, why don’t help us send it through hawala, asks our reporter.

But Jain is not of help: “Hawala se humara nahin … hum toh banking channel ke through bhejenge … usmein toh report jayegi (Hawala is not our job … we will send it through banking channel … a report will be sent in that).”

Our reporter sells him another cooked-up story how a builder messed up with the money of our minister and now will be forced to shell out more than what was settled between them.

He may now end up paying the minister not less than Rs. 37 crore for the Rs. 25 crore that the minister had given him a few months back. The minister is now wary of such betrayers. So, entrust this job on our behalf to someone who is trustworthy.

Promptly pouts Jain this assurance: “Bilkul aap nishchint rahein humare saath jo bhi kaam hoga (Sure, be assured about whatever job we will do).”

Do take charge of this as well as the outside job, “bahar wala,” says our reporter. We will pay whatever the expenses are.

Nodding his head, replies Jain with this assurance: “Theek hai … bahar wala bhi kara denge … theek hai bahar wala kara denge (Alright … I will get the outside job done as well).”

Saying that he is now satisfied with his assurance on all three counts, our reporter leaves his seat.

Jain continues to pout assurances: “Bilkul aap nishchint rahein … nishchint rahein … locker aap jitne kaho utne de doonga (Absolutely … be reassured … be reassured … I will give you as many lockers as you ask for).”

Finally, before leaving the bank our reporter gets the assurance from Jain to get the unaccounted crores counted in the branch with the help of the counting machine there.

On being contacted by the Cobrapost reporter after the expose, he welcomes the proposition again when told the money is ready, but the next moment he changes the stance to say that they don’t do anything without following KYC norms.

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