Shares of India's top private sector lenders - ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank - fell around 2% in morning trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Thursday on reports of online newspaper Cobrapost that these banks allegedly indulged in money-laundering practices.
The shares, however, recovered in afternoon trade to end in the positive zone. While ICICI Bank shares ended 2.2% up at Rs. 1111, HDFC Bank rebounded 2.3% at Rs. 650 and Axis ended with a gain of 0.5% at Rs. 1,354.
Aniruddha Bahal, founder and editor-in-chief of Indian news and opinion website Cobrapost.com, earlier in the day said he had collected hundreds of hours of video recordings from "dozens and dozens" of bank branches across the country. He did not say when the recordings were compiled.
All three banks said they were investigating the allegations.
ICICI Bank said it was "deeply concerned" about the accusations and had constituted a committee to probe the matter. "We have followed a zero tolerance policy towards any violation. We have constituted a high-level inquiry committee to investigate into the matter and submit its findings in two weeks."
HDFC Bank said it was investigating the matter on "top priority," while Axis Bank said it would investigate the matter "thoroughly."
When contacted, a spokesperson of market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) refused to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, the benchmark Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Thursday surged 208 points, or 1%, to 19,570 as core inflation numbers below 4% for the first time in nearly 3 years, fuelling hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India on March 19.