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HDFC Bank says got an I-T enquiry following Cobrapost expose

PTI   Mumbai, June 27, 2013
First Published: 22:40 IST(27/6/2013) | Last Updated: 22:59 IST(27/6/2013)

Following the Cobrapost expose,private sector lender HDFC Bank received an Income Tax enquiry but it was not an assessee in the case.
 
"Yes, there was a tax enquiry and they had detailed discussions with our people concerned and the tax authorities are satisfied with our responses," bank chairman C M Vasudev told shareholders at the bank's annual general meeting here.
 
HDFC Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Aditya Puri, however, clarified that the bank had appeared before the Income Tax department as a witness, and not as a tax assessee.
 
"We have met the tax authorities. Please remember, we have not met them as a tax assessee, we have met them as a witness," he told reporters.
 
The Cobrapost expose purportedly showed officials of the country's top three private sector lenders -- ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank -- offering services which violated the existing money laundering and `know your customer' norms.
    
Following this, the I-T department had sent notices to all the three lenders, seeking explanation on their positions for possible tax evasion.
    
Answering a query regarding the impact on the business of the bank, Vasudev said, "I don't imagine that genuine sort of business should get affected," adding that only the numbers posted next year will show the results.
    
He said the bank has a whistleblower policy in place and all the cases which come under that are seriously looked into.
    
Puri said the bank plans to open 300 branches on top of its over 3,000 already operating branches this year and added it takes up to three years for a branch to break-even.
    
Around 53 per cent of its branches at present are in semi-urban and rural areas, Puri said, adding the proportion will go up this year.

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