The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today penalised the country’s top three private lenders – ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank – for violating its instructions on know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines.
Axis Bank has been fined Rs 5 crore, HDFC Bank Rs 4.5 crore and ICICI Bank Rs 1 crore. RBI carried out a scrutiny of the books of accounts, internal control, compliance systems and processes of these three banks following allegations that these lenders were running a money-laundering racket in India.
The central bank noted that ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank violated instructions on non-adherence of safeguards on issuing ‘at par’ cheques through co-operative banks and did not adhere to certain aspects of KYC and AML norms. KYC of walk-in customers were not done for sale of third party products.
Also, the three banks did not file some cash transaction reports and sold gold coins by accepting cash beyond Rs 50,000. Details of customers’ permanent account number (PAN) card or Form 60/61 were not obtained while opening of accounts.
In a sting operation, online magazine Cobrapost had secretly taped employees of ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank offering money-laundering as a product. Later, the portal accused 22 other banks (including public sector banks) and three insurance companies of indulging in money-laundering activities.