This Article is From Oct 11, 2019

PMC Bank Depositors Meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

The PMC Bank fraud is estimated to be worth at least Rs 4,355 crore and could go up to as much as Rs 6,300 crore.

PMC Bank Depositors Meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

RBI has limited withdrawals from PMC Bank to Rs 25,000 for six months.

PMC Bank depositors gathered at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office in Mumbai just as the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was to arrive there. Their only demand was that the government should intervene in the PMC bank case.

Ms Sitharaman said the finance ministry is doing everything in its capacity but the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the regulator for co-operative banks.

"I will once again talk to the RBI Governor this evening (Thursday) to convey the distress of PMC clients... The Ministry of Finance may have nothing to do with it directly," said Ms Sitharaman.

"I have asked the secretaries of the ministry to study in detail as to what is happening. Representatives of the RBI will also be there to understand shortcomings, what happened and also if necessary, look at the ways in which the respective acts will have to be amended," she added.

Harbansh Singh, who was one of the few depositors who attended the meeting with the Finance Minister, said, "I was present at the meeting but other than assurances nothing concrete came out."

Mr Singh is into the hotel business. He has three accounts in PMC Bank and about Rs 1 crore worth of his funds are now stuck there, he said.

The RBI has limited withdrawals to Rs 25,000 for six months after a major borrower, realtor HDIL, defaulted on loan repayments.

"There are lot of issues now. I have a hotel business that is on a standstill now. We will wait but don't really know what to do," Mr Singh said.

He is not alone.

Jitsu Seth has been a customer of PMC Bank for the last 27 years. She uses no other bank and has fixed deposits of several lakhs of rupees stuck.

"This cannot be a situation where overnight you lock our accounts. This is white money, nothing black... hard earned money. How can this be locked? And we are told to wait," she said.

And there are many more.

"We are not beggars. This is our money. Give us our money back. The government has given bonuses to employees on Diwali but what about our Diwali?" said another depositor Mala.

The PMC Bank fraud is estimated to be worth at least Rs 4,355 crore and could go up to as much as Rs 6,300 crore, which is 73 per cent of the cooperative bank's total loan book.

The bank did not report HDIL defaults for nearly six years.

Currently, the case is with the Enforcement Directorate and the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai Police. The bank's managing director and chairman as well as HDIL directors are in police custody.

The massive underreporting of records could have been only detected by a forensic audit and the probe could be likely extended to the auditors of HDIL as well, according to sources.