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PSB frauds at over `95,700 crore in first 6 months of FY20: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Parliament on Tuesday. (Express photo: Renuka Puri)

State-owned banks reported frauds of over Rs 95,700 crore in the first six months of the current fiscal year, even as their non-performing assets (NPAs) declined in the last year and a half. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), during the period from April 1, 2019 to September 30, 2019, public sector banks reported 5,743 instances of frauds involving a total amount of Rs 95,760.49 crore, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday.

Comprehensive measures have been taken to curb the incidence of frauds in banks, including freezing bank accounts of 3.38 lakh inoperative companies, she said in the written reply. The government has directed public sector banks to examine all accounts exceeding Rs 50 crore, if classified as NPAs, from the angle of possible fraud. Banks are also required to place a report on the findings of investigation before the bank’s Committee for Review of NPAs.

The RBI has also set up a Central Fraud Registry (CFR), based on Fraud Monitoring Returns filed by banks and select financial institutions, which provides a searchable online central database for use by banks. Rising frauds add to bank NPAs, but write-offs and recoveries have led to a fall in the overall NPA levels in the banking sector. Gross NPAs of all banks fell by Rs 97,996 crore from Rs 10.36 lakh crore as on March 31, 2018 to Rs 9.38 lakh crore as on June 30, 2019. The government also stepped up capital infusion in the public sector banks to enable them withstand the mountain of bad loans. Over the last five financial years including the current financial year till date, government has injected Rs. 3.13 lakh crore worth of equity in the state-owned banks while they raised another Rs 76,000 crore through the market.

Meanwhile, in reply to another question, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said with the increase in limit of withdrawal to Rs 50,000 for customers of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank, 78 per cent of depositors of the bank will be able to withdraw their entire account balance. As on September 23, 2019 (date of imposition of RBI directions), total depositors of PMC Bank were 9,15,775 .

The statutory inspection of the bank with reference to its position as on March 2019 conducted by RBI revealed large group exposure toward Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) Group companies to the tune of about Rs 6,226.01 crore.

Out of the total exposure of Rs 6,226.01 crore as on March 31, 2019 to the HDIL group, only Rs 439.58 crore was disclosed to RBI and remaining Rs 5,786.43 crore remained undisclosed, he said.