How do we stop bank robbery by the high and mighty? The people of good times like Vijay Mallya and now Nirav Modi, all have looted the public sector banks and ran away from the country. What has gone wrong? Is it Nationalisation of banks by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – a mistake in the year 1969? Should Mr. Narendra Modi after 51 years – privatize these banks? Or is it the audit system of banks that is too weak to check the frauds that generate year on year and remain untraced? The issue is indeed serious. Answer to these questions needs to be given by the people who are in authority.

Blaming political parties either UPA or NDA is a futile exercise. The fact is that the banks in India are lacking competent staff. There are audit officers in the bank who can hardly read the balance sheet of a company, prepared by the Chartered Accountant. I have personally come across one such auditor of a public sector bank at Shillong.

Nirav Modi’s case is something where he had just used the gap in the system and continued to loot the public sector. Though, his lawyer Mr. Vijay Agarwal denies any fraud. In a media interview he said and I quote “there is absolutely no fraud. It is like the 2G scam or Bofor’s case, where a mountain is made of a mole hill”. But this is not the case. The cover story of this month on Nirav Modi will give you an in depth details as how it was made possible.

Our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi takes great pride and does not forget to remind the people about the massive success of Jan – Dhan Yojana in which crores of bank accounts were opened in the shortest period. To that extent he was right. Bank is a place where common and general people all deposit and keep their money. Bank as such is the custodian of public money and at times when they need money in the form of loan, they approach bank. Utilization of public money through banking transaction only generates income for bank. It is expected that bank will ensure that loans are given to those entrepreneurs who has a good business model and credibility to repay the loan. For this exactly they have internal credit appraisal system. Once, that is strong enough and proper internal monitoring and supervision of Board of Directors is there, then the question of such lapses does not arise. Vinod Rai perhaps rightly said that “best systems are bound to fail if the man operating them has an ulterior motive”. This happens to be the single most challenge before the nation. Though CBI has filed the first FIR in the scam on February 14, 2018, the family left India, leaving behind all assets in January 2018 itself and now refuses to come back to India. This trend has to be stopped and diplomatic pressure must work to ensure that these ‘Robbers’ be brought back to India. Rs. 11,200/- crore is no small amount. This amount can do wonders on any segment of development, if invested.

Dr. K.K. Jhunjhunwala