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Banks are under scanner of district administration !
Banks are under scanner of special investigation team (SIT) probing Srijan money transfer scam, and it has been alleged that banks are actual masterminds along with the Srijan NGO in embezzlement of government money.
While on the other hand, bankers have rejected such allegations and have drawn battel line with legal weapons for countering such defamations on them.
Some of the experts concerned on finance and banking who have started preparation for countering the allegations leveled against banks as the main culprit in the entire episode, pointed out many loopholes.
Many of them however admitted that that the practice of direct transfer of government’s money to Srijan’s account was completely illegal and focus should be given on it during the on going investigation. “Such illegal practice was started from 2003-04 by district officials at that time and bank hadn’t any role to oppose it,” they pointed out while adding that the entire forge were taken place while transferring of government’s money either by cheques or by swipe. But at that time endorsement of cheques also known as third party cheque, was vailed but money laundering act of 2002 which came to existence from 2005 , completely prevented and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its circulars make all the banks aware of the new guideline at that time,” said a senior bank official on condition of anonymity.
He however said that RBI had permitted only the cooperative societies to encase up to Rs 50 thousand considering the members of the cooperative societies belongs to rural areas deprive off banking facilities at their places. But here at Bhagalpur city, the practice of endorsement was going on smoothly despite the guideline of RBI, he said adding that as the district magistrate, Bhagalpur alleged bank of Boroda and Indian bank for transferring huge money by making forge signature of the account holders (read the DMs Bhagalpur).
“How and why such issue of forge signature for third party cheque has projected as a major instrument against the banks when third party cheque system was prohibited long back in 2005. And so there is no relevancy of the issue of signature of any person. But the irrelevant issue was just to defame the banks,” said the officer.
Samir Kumar Ghosh , a retired bank official said that the district administration has been claiming that banks had committed the forge while transferring government accounts to the account of NGO. He raised question that when the drawer and the drawee (the administration and the Srijan NGO) are account holders in the banks and the two have credentials, one is district administration and another is a NGO registered with the cooperative society of government of Bihar, how the banks could refused such transfers to the accounts which are well known.
According to him the term forge in banking could be used when some person with fake names and identifications opens an account in a bank and thereafter manages to withdraw some amount or transfer some amount in his/her account and managed to escape with the amount.
“But here money was transferred to known account and more over nexus of transfer between both the accounts are very old and continuing and also under undisputed authority of the district administration. Perhaps it is the first time when the district authorities have disputed the authority to transfer,” Ghosh pointed out.
According to him credibility of the account of Srijan NGO was registered with the cooperative society of government of Bihar, was remained intact. More over activities of the said NGO was monitored by the district cooperative officer who is under the district administration, he pointed out.
“ Failure of due diligence of bank is under scanner like mainly while transferring funds bankers violated the directives of RBI but it is not wise to defame the banks for committing forge,” said a senior manager of a nationalized bank here with condition of anonymity. “We are preparing our strategies so please don’t disclose our names,” he requested.
Another bank officer who did not like to be quoted said the failure of due diligence might be possible mainly due to the banking system. “Different banker bodies have been demanding to rectify such old practices like having government’s deposits so that banker could perform their duty smoothly and tension freely,” he said.
Ajit Sharma, Congress MLA from Bhagalpur town seat who condemned the entire episode of Srijan, demanded a high level inquiry by CBI and also by enforcement directorate (ED), said only higher investigating agencies could solve this complicated scam in which many big shorts are involved.
Meanwhile the discloser of A K Singh, the retired chief manager of bank of Boroda who was recently arrested by the SIT in connection with the scam, was very important to know the actual situations inside the banking sectors.
Singh became the chief manager of the branch on July 12 , 2014 and retired from the branch on October 31, 2015. But senior superintendent of police, Bhagalpur, Manoj Kumar blamed that during the tenure of Singh, the scam was taken place at that branch and he too became beneficiary from Srijan NGO.
Singh however denied such allegation and said the senior manager, operation at the branch at that time, Barun Kumar Sinha was responsible for clearance of the cheque. “When I notice the transfer of big amount of Rs 270 crore from the district land acquisition department to the account of Srijan, I immediately instructed Sinha on writing to make concerned person of land acquisition department aware of the facts. The letter was received at the office of land acquisition department and we also received compliance of our letter,” Singh claimed.
“Sometime practice became the law, what hell I could do, if I further tried to highlight the matter before the senior officials like the district magistrate, there might be the chances that our branch might have lost the huge deposit of government departments. We have to work under constant pressure for managing such huge government deposits from our senior bank officials, now tell why a banker like me should invite troubles and more or less when such practice (read transfer of amount from district administration to Srijan) had been lasting for a long period who hell we (bankers) are to raise objection,” he stated weeping profusely outside the court room in police custody.
Another senior banker on condition of anonymity alleged that since the first day when government funds was started depositing in so called Srijan Mahila bank by the district administration, the scam automatically started where banks had nothing to do. “Banks have been following the order of the district administration only but wrongfully trapped in the scam,” the officer claimed.