State Bank of India, the country’s largest commercial bank, on Friday opted to remain silent on the action it took in the Kingfisher Airlines case, talking instead about the growing relevance of credit information bureaus in India and on the sharing of information among banks to reduce cases of fraud.
Speaking at an event organised by Credit Information Bureau Ltd (Cibil), SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya avoided any reference to SBI’s exposure to the defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA), promoted by beleaguered tycoon Vijay Mallya.
According to Ms Bhattacharya, credit information bureaus in India are different from that seen in the west mainly due to the demographics that the country boasts of, and due to the increasing number of young people in India, compared to the ageing population in the rest of the world.
A recent DBS report said that while the decline in the growth rate of major economies in Asia would continue, India’s favourable demographics would boost growth patterns.
SBI has been in the eye of a storm after reports that the bank had delayed taking measures against Kingfisher Airlines and promoter Vijay Mallya. SBI has an exposure of Rs 1,600 crore out of the Rs 7,000 crore lent to Kingfisher Airlines.
In a statement late on Thursday, SBI said that the bank had moved very promptly on taking appropriate legal steps to protect banks’ interest and public money. “The news item about settlement between Diageo, USL (United Spirits) and Vijay Mallya was reported on 26/02/2016. On 26/02/2016 itself, State Bank of India moved DRT Bengaluru for advancement of the matter which was listed for hearing on 08/03/16. DRT later advanced the matter to 29/02/2016,” said SBI.
March 2, DRT Bengaluru heard arguments and posted the matter to March 4. SBI filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court on March 3 and requested the court to list it for hearing on March 4, said SBI underscoring the promptness with which it acted.
SBI also said that the consortium of banks are fighting more than 20 cases in various courts including DRT from June 2013 and number of hearings held are in excess of 500 with more than 180 adjournments.