ICICI Bank has topped the list of banks with the highest number of fraud cases over the last three years, topping bigger rivals state-run State Bank of India and private HDFC Bank. ICICI Bank has recorded a total of 1,432 cases of frauds involving Rs 1 lakh or more, between fiscal year 2016-17 and FY 2018-19, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. India’s largest bank State Bank of India is second on the list with 1,323 frauds, followed by India’s largest private bank HDFC Bank with 915 cases.
The amount of money involved in these frauds has fallen during the three years in question, even as the number of fraud instances remain volatile. A total of 3,927 cases of frauds were registered worth a whopping Rs 25,884 crore in the financial year 2016-17; another 4,228 cases worth Rs 9,886 crore in FY 2017-18; and 2,836 cases worth Rs 6,735 in FY 2018-19, according to the minister’s reply.
To the question about the steps taken to restrict these fraud cases, Anurag Thakur replied that the government has issued framework for timely detection, reporting, investigation etc. relating to high value bank frauds in PSU banks. This framework includes examination of all NPAs above Rs 50 crore by the banks from an angle of possible fraud. Also, examination must be initiated immediately for the wilful default, after being reported to the RBI.
In another step, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 has been enacted to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts, and PSU banks have been advised to obtain a certified copy of the passport of the promoters or directors and other authorised signatories of companies availing loan facilities of more than Rs 50 crore.
For enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits, the minister replied that the government has established the National Financial Reporting Authority as an independent regulator. Also, 3.38 lakh bank accounts of inoperative companies have been frozen in the last two years to bring transparency and accountability in the banking system.
- By Samrat Sharma