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Maharashtra Farmers Say ICICI Prudential Defrauded Them Into Buying Insurance Instead Of FD Schemes

Rosamma Thomas
·2-min read
A farmer uses his oxen to till his land in front of a satellite dish set up in an adjacent field in Narayangaon September 28, 2012. 
A farmer uses his oxen to till his land in front of a satellite dish set up in an adjacent field in Narayangaon September 28, 2012.

Pune, MAHARASHTRA – When Sandeep Bakhshi was appointed ICICI Bank’s Chief Executive Officer in October 2018, his media handlers were keen to portray a lingering controversy from his previous role as Ceo of ICICI Prudential as the isolated misdeeds of a few bad apples.

At ICICI-Pru, an insurance company in which the bank holds a majority stake, Bakhshi had presided over rampant misselling of insurance policies in Rajasthan. Hundreds of mostly poor farmers had seen their life savings evaporate when ICICI-Pru salesman sold them insurance products instead of the fixed deposits the farmers had asked for.

In October 2019, an Udaipur court issued a bailable warrant against Bakhshi for his alleged role in filing a false criminal case against an ICICI-Pru whistleblower; the sessions court revoked it in November that year. Police inquiry into ICICI Prudential’s selling practices in Rajasthan is underway.

HuffPost India has now found a similar pattern of mis-selling by ICICI-Pru in nine cases in Maharashtra. In the cases reviewed by HuffPost India, poor farmers, some of whom had dropped out of school and worked as daily wage labourers, visited their local ICICI bank branch to put their hard-won savings into a fixed deposit. At the branch they were intercepted by ICICI-Pru sales representatives who sold them life insurance policies instead.

In some instances, insurance executives falsified or misrepresented the financial position of these farmers and labourers in their sign-up documents.

When these victims went to withdraw the money, they were told the money had been forfeited as they hadn’t paid the yearly premiums.

The cases in Maharashtra are significant; they suggest mis-sale of insurance by ICICI-Pru is not confined to Rajasthan, and is happening through branches of the bank elsewhere; ICICI Bank has over 5,000 branches in India.

HuffPost India shared a detailed questionnaire with ICICI-Pru. The insurance firm declined to comment on specific cases highlighted...

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