Tighten the Screws

When I mentioned about the story to a bank official to seek
advice, the question asked was a simple one – Why do you want to
publish the story?
For a moment, you wonder what the purpose of covering such
a story is. The obvious answer is to inform, to tell a story as it is and the
end result is to end corruption, to… Having said the last part, I thought –
but does it end corruption?
Certainly no! It may not even make a difference to the lives of the protagonists
involved in this ultramega scam involving hundreds and thousands
of businessmen and bank officials.
And there is another category who don’t figure anywhere but are the
pivotal brain behind bank loans, project reports, annual statements and
balance sheets. The chartered accountants! They are the ones who help
fudge figures, mask fund transfers and make fancy reports. But they are
not the story here – as there is no evidence, no mention and they have a
clear alibi. So we are left with two types – the businessmen who take
loans. They take loans with the help, assistance and guidance of bank
officials, who naturally get a cut.
The scam of this magnitude and scale can only be perpetrated when
almost everyone is involved – over 10,000 defaulters, 42 banks… And this
is just not even 50 percent of the scam.
This problem area for the government – they cannot prosecute everyone
involved, they cannot put everyone behind bars. It will take hundreds
of years for the agencies – given the pace of work, court routines, investigative
manpower and technical expertise – to go after each and everyone.
Precisely for this reason, the agencies have not touched everyone
though the list has been out for a long time and banks display their lists
on their websites and other places. There are cases which are more than
a decade old that figure in the list of willful defaulters. So what the CBI
and ED and banks are doing is slowly, one by one, picking their targets
and cracking the whip. The idea is to highlight the examples and create a
sense of fear in the next guy who would plan to take the system for a ride.
The Central Government should also tighten the screws on the banks.
The RBI should get the banks to answer question. How can the Non-performing
assets of the banks touch a figure of Rs 8 lakh crore and not one
person is answerable? So ask just a basic question, who is responsible?
And if no one is responsible, is it a system failure? And if it is the system
failure, damn it! It will not be the end but certainly aims to a part in the
series to improve the system. Hope it is taken in that spirit and context.
When I mentioned about the story to a bank official to seek
advice, the question asked was a simple one – Why do you want to
publish the story?
For a moment, you wonder what the purpose of covering such
a story is. The obvious answer is to inform, to tell a story as it is and the
end result is to end corruption, to… Having said the last part, I thought –
but does it end corruption?
Certainly no! It may not even make a difference to the lives of the protagonists
involved in this ultramega scam involving hundreds and thousands
of businessmen and bank officials.
And there is another category who don’t figure anywhere but are the
pivotal brain behind bank loans, project reports, annual statements and
balance sheets. The chartered accountants! They are the ones who help
fudge figures, mask fund transfers and make fancy reports. But they are
not the story here – as there is no evidence, no mention and they have a
clear alibi. So we are left with two types – the businessmen who take
loans. They take loans with the help, assistance and guidance of bank
officials, who naturally get a cut.
The scam of this magnitude and scale can only be perpetrated when
almost everyone is involved – over 10,000 defaulters, 42 banks… And this
is just not even 50 percent of the scam.
This problem area for the government – they cannot prosecute everyone
involved, they cannot put everyone behind bars. It will take hundreds
of years for the agencies – given the pace of work, court routines, investigative
manpower and technical expertise – to go after each and everyone.
Precisely for this reason, the agencies have not touched everyone
though the list has been out for a long time and banks display their lists
on their websites and other places. There are cases which are more than
a decade old that figure in the list of willful defaulters. So what the CBI
and ED and banks are doing is slowly, one by one, picking their targets
and cracking the whip. The idea is to highlight the examples and create a
sense of fear in the next guy who would plan to take the system for a ride.
The Central Government should also tighten the screws on the banks.
The RBI should get the banks to answer question. How can the Non-performing
assets of the banks touch a figure of Rs 8 lakh crore and not one
person is answerable? So ask just a basic question, who is responsible?
And if no one is responsible, is it a system failure? And if it is the system
failure, damn it! It will not be the end but certainly aims to a part in the
series to improve the system. Hope it is taken in that spirit and context.
Capt M K Tayal
editor@thecorrespondent.in