Soon after the three-hour long video exposé here on Thursday morning, all the three banks came out with a statement that they had started internal probe and admitted “aberrations” from some staffers.
Though the Finance Ministry and RBI have not announced any probe officially, Government sources claimed that Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had been asked to initiate probe on the large exposé of money laundering.
According to the video report exhibited in the Press conference by the Cobrapost, several dozen bank officials of branches across the country were trapped while encouraging, advising and facilitating reporters, who posed as black money depositors.
Some reporters in the video were seen getting a warm welcome, when they posed as politicians, who wanted to deposit illicit wealth.
The banks staffers of ICICI, HDFC and Axis Bank were seen advising how to avoid Income Tax and RBI norms on customer identity. According to the exposé, all these three banks have separate officials to handle the high volume deals and to provide escape routes from the eyes of RBI and Income Tax. The reporters who posed as depositors were seen being advised by the staff, how to avoid the scrutiny and the officials were even telling them that there was no need for them to furnish the mandatory PAN.
Soon after the exposé all the three banks came out with statements, expressing their “serious concern” on the issue. However no bank refuted the report.
“ICICI Group conducts its business with the highest level of compliance to legal and regulatory requirements. All employees of the group are trained and are required to adhere strictly to the Group Code of Conduct… We have demonstrated our commitment to this by following a zero tolerance policy towards any violation,” said the bank, blaming the employees caught on camera.
“We have constituted a high level inquiry committee to investigate and submit its findings within two weeks. HDFC Bank was investigating the matter on top priority. Any deviation is viewed very seriously and stringent action is taken both at an organisational and employee level,” the bank said.
“Axis Bank has systems and processes that are robust and fully compliant with extant regulations. We will examine whatever information that is brought to our notice and investigate thoroughly,” the bank said in a statement.
A few months ago, Aam Admi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan had come out with evidences of widespread money laundering against HSBC Bank.