PMC scam: Ready to self-immolate, say PMC Bank depositors

Updated: 21 September, 2020 07:55 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

A year has passed with no resolution to the bank crises; desperate depositors say they will protest despite receiving WhatsApp notices from Mumbai police preventing them from doing so under the Epidemic Diseases Act

PMC Bank depositors protest outside its branch at Andheri on Sunday. Pic/Anurag Ahire
PMC Bank depositors protest outside its branch at Andheri on Sunday. Pic/Anurag Ahire

The depositors of Punjab Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC) who have been waiting for relief from the government, ahead of the first anniversary of the revelation of the scam, have received notices from the Mumbai police preventing them from protesting. However, they have decided to go ahead despite this on September 23, the date last year that RBI imposed restrictions on withdrawals from the bank due to the financial scam.

Around 50 depositors of PMC Bank protested in Andheri on Sunday after receiving a WhatsApp notice from the Mumbai police, warning them of strict action under section 144 and the Epidemic Diseases Act. The depositors called this a discriminatory move by the government and the police, as on Sunday itself, there was a morcha by Maratha people at 18 locations in Mumbai in the presence of police. The depositors have threatened to protest despite the police notice, as they claim the state and central government are not taking the issue seriously. Some of them have also threatened to self-immolate before the RBI on September 23.

'Blocking democratic right'

"The state and central governments are passing the buck. Nobody wants to understand our problem. Now they want to block our democratic right to protest for justice by sending notices on WhatsApp sheltering behind the pandemic. But they allowed the Marathas to protest in the presence of police at several locations. We will protest on September 23 because we have suffered a lot and even after one year nothing has happened," said Manjula Kotian, a PMC Bank depositor.
"My daughter's wedding has been cancelled as I am unable to withdraw my fixed deposit amount from the bank. Due to the lockdown my husband is jobless and daughter is getting only half her salary. How are we going to survive?" she added.

'We want our money'

"I want to tell this government, the Prime Minister, and the police that we will protest because we are not demanding any reservation, we are asking for our hard earned white money. We have been given just fake promises for the past one year. My daughter and son, both are getting only half their salaries, my husband is jobless. The prime minister says 'Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao' I want to tell him that my daughter couldn't complete her education because we don't have money to pay for it. I want PM to intervene as it is high-time, or else we will always regret that we voted for him," said Vidya Merwade, a PMC depositor.

"I have two daughters, one is in Germany pursuing higher education and another is in Pune. I am unable to pay their fees despite having Rs 1 crore in my family's different PMC accounts. All my PF, gratuity and savings worth a crore are stuck in the bank and I am borrowing money from my relatives every month for survival. After retirement, I thought I would lead a peaceful life but that didn't happen. I started working with a private company and my six months' salary also got stuck due to lockdown," said Suman Chauhan, another depositor.

The PMC Bank scam

The PMC Bank scam involves its top management including the MD Joy Thomas, Chairman Waryam Singh and other directors. They gave a huge loan to Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) and its group entities by transferring 70 per cent of the bank's total credit facilities to them. The matter was being investigated by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW ) of the Mumbai police which arrested 15 accused in the matter including the top bank management and promoters of HDIL Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan.

Investigations revealed around 21,049 bank accounts were opened by bogus names to conceal 44 loan accounts. The bank's software was also tampered with to conceal these loan accounts from majority of its employees. Loans to the tune of Rs 6,700 crore were given through these ghost accounts to the 44 accounts of the HDIL group. It is pertinent to note that these 44 accounts were undisclosed to the RBI.

The ED also Investigated the money laundering in PMC bank scam. On September 19, the ED attached three Delhi-based hotels worth Rs 100 crore in connection with the case.

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First Published: 21 September, 2020 07:36 IST

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