iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Jatin Anand, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 20, 2013
Robbers and snatchers in the city have found an inventive and minimum-risk way of getting rid of their booty - exchanging it for cold hard cash at the neighbourhood finance firm offering attractive gold loans.

Police have proof that street criminals and even disgruntled employees with spurious gold bricks are abusing the easily available services of non-banking financial companies, such as Muthoot Finance, with reckless abandon, thanks to "shortcomings" in the firms' "security matrix".

However, a senior Muthoot official denied the existence of such "lacunae" and maintained: "The matter was brought up at a meeting (with police on June 7) but purely as an apprehension. No concrete evidence was put on the table. No system is infallible but… whatever gold-based items are deposited with us are adequately verified."

"Criminals have been depositing the proceeds of crimes - mainly jewellery items - with branches of such financial companies," said a police officer.

"We were investigating three cases in Rohini, Preet Vihar and Karol Bagh in which Muthoot and other such firms had been targeted. While conducting informal security audits at their branches, we realized there was a bigger problem at hand," said the officer.

A deeper look at the records produced 35 instances of stolen gold jewellery being pawned at various Muthoot branches in the last two years, sources claimed. Police have bonafide company receipts for the pawned goods while close to 60 criminals have been arrested for targeting Muthoot Finance in one way or the other. 

At the meeting with company representatives, special commissioner (crime) Dharmendra Kumar said, the police suggested safety measures such as installing more CCTVs, employee verification and capturing the biometric details of those depositing jewellery.