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PMC depositors protest outside RBI office seeking payback (Eds: Updating with details, quotes) Mumba

PMC depositors protest outside RBI office seeking payback (Eds: Updating with details, quotes) Mumbai, Oct 29 (PTI) Harried depositors of thetroubled Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bankcontinued with their protests by agitating outside an officeof the Reserve Bank here on Tuesday, to demand a payback oftheir stuck money.

A depositors' delegation also met a Chief GeneralManager-rank officer after the protest in suburban BandraKurla Complex (BKC), and submitted a memorandum.

The PMC Bank has been put under restrictions by theRBI for over a month, after an alleged Rs 4,355 crore scamcame to light following which the deposit withdrawal wasinitially capped at Rs 1,000, causing panic and distress amongdepositors. The withdrawal limit has been raised in staggeredmanner to Rs 40,000.

At least five depositors, who had high quantum ofmoney stuck with the bank, died in the last month, includingone who committed suicide.

The depositors, majority of them senior citizens andwomen, gathered at the RBI building which houses the officesof the chief general manager for cooperative bankingregulation, with banners like it being a 'Black Diwali'because of the PMC crisis.

Later, a five member delegation went to meet seniorRBI officials and submitted a memorandum.

After its meeting with RBI officials, Jitshu Seth, oneof the delegation members, said they requested the RBI toassure them that their money lying with the trouble-hit bankwas safe.

'The RBI official said their priority is to protectthe money of each and every depositor,' she said, adding thatthe RBI was also been urged to either arrange a Rs 4,000 croreinfusion into the bank or merge it with a healthy lender.

Another delegation member Harbans Singh said he willbe filing a writ petition in the court seeking payback fordepositors by selling property worth over Rs 4,000 croreattached by the investigating agencies.

Depositor Satish Thapar, who was among the protesters,said the bank can be revived because the probing agency hasattached more assets of the accused than the loans given.

'The bank has become a sinking ship now, but we wantthat it should be restarted immediately,' he said.

He said the depositors' current and savings accountswith the PMC Bank should be activated with immediate effect sothat 'they can have their bread and butter'.

Meanwhile, one of the depositors from suburban Mulund,where the bank has the maximum presence, alleged that he wasdetained by the city police ahead of the planned protest onTuesday outside the RBI office.

The depositor said this was done as a preventivemeasure and a message was passed, asking the depositors toprotest at south Mumbai's Azad Maidan, the financial capital'sofficially designated protest ground.

The depositors have so far held over two dozen protestsince the bank was put under directions by the RBI, and haveagitated outside the RBI's headquarters and also the officialresidence of Maharashtra's chief minister.

They also targeted political campaign venues ahead ofthe elections to the state, which resulted in them getting anaudience with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as well.

The crisis at the bank is attributed to loans made torealty player Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL),which were allegedly hidden from regulators' scrutiny,turning non-performing assets.

Five persons, including HDIL promoters and bank's topmanagement, have been arrested.

The Enforcement Directorate is also investigating thecase and has attached the assets of HDIL promoters, RakeshWadhawan and his son Sarand Wadhawan, who are in its custody.

Over Rs 6,500 crore of the bank's advances of Rs 9,000crore were made to either HDIL or dummy companies affiliatedto it, which have gone sour.

The bank has deposits of over Rs 11,000 crore and theRBI has said that 77 per cent of the depositors can withdrawtheir money with the Rs 40,000 limit.

The administrator put by RBI to oversee the bank'soperations is presently restating the books to present a fairpicture of its financial strength. PTI ZA/AAGK GK