Passport details of borrowers taking loans of Rs 50 crore and more have been mandatory to ensure a swift action in case of fraud and prevent fraudsters from fleeing the country, a top official said today. Passport details will help banks to take timely action and inform the relevant authorities to prevent fraudsters from fleeing the country. “Next step on clean and responsible banking. Passport details must for loans above Rs 50 crore. Step to ensure quick response in case of fraud,” Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar tweeted.
This is a preventive step to avoid flight of economic offenders and banks to collect passport details of all new borrowers of loans in excess of Rs 50 crore, he said. For all existing loans of over Rs 50 crore, banks have been asked to collect passport details of borrowers within 45 days, he added. In absence of passport details, banks were hamstrung in taking timely action to prevent defaulters especially wilful one from fleeing the country.
Several big defaulters like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya and Jatin Mehta have fled the country putting the recovery mechanism in quandary. Last week, the Cabinet approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill after Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi allegedly defrauded state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) of Rs 12,700 crore and left the country and are refusing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies. The proposed fugitive law aims to impound and sell assets of Nirav Modi-type escapees with a view to quickly recover dues.
It also will apply to defaulters who have an outstanding of Rs 100 crore or more and have escaped from the country. As part of drive to clean the banking system, the Finance Ministry last week had directed public sector banks (PSBs) to probe all NPA accounts of over Rs 50 crore for possible fraud and accordingly report the cases to CBI. Besides, the ministry had asked banks to monitor loans above Rs 250 crore and red flags whenever the original covenants of the loans are violated. This was spelt out as part of 6-point-reform measures announced for PSBs in January.