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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

No criminality in Cobrapost findings: SBI

PTI  Chandigarh, May 09, 2013
First Published: 19:21 IST(9/5/2013) | Last Updated: 19:22 IST(9/5/2013)

Bank officials' advices of splitting deposits to evade taxes, as exposed in a sting operation by an online news portal, are "undesirable loose talks" but there is no apparent criminality, SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said on Thursday.

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"Prima facie, things that have come to our notice it looks (that) there is no criminality in the sense that somebody has suggested splitting up your deposits, say Rs. 50 lakh into Rs. 50,000 or 1 lakh. So far, it looks like loose talks, but even that loose talk is undesirable," he told reporters here when he was asked to comment on allegations of money laundering by online portal Cobrapost.

He also added that no employee was found to have benefited personally.

"What has come in Cobrapost is not corruption. I would say some activity called money laundering or tax evasion. There is no case that the employee has been benefited personally. In some cases you have split your deposits to avoid detection by tax authorities..(but) it should not have happened," he said.

The bank had so far suspended three of its officers after the expose.

"We have suspended three people who suggested and encouraged people to avoid tax. Possibly, sitting in a bank this (suggesting to customers) is wrong. Inquiries are going on and each of inquiry is being handled by senior officials. I wish not to disclose further detail in order to preserve inquiry," he added.

Online portal Cobrapost had accused as many as 23 banks, including SBI, and insurance companies of running money a nation-wide money laundering.

Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Srinagar said it has completed investigations against banks following the Cobrapost expose and will take action if they are found guilty of violating prudential banking norms.

"We have done investigations, we have prepared an internal report. There are processes to be followed to take investigations to its logical closure...

"The first is action against individual institutions who are involved in practises which are not consistent with the banking regulation and prudential banking", RBI governor D Subbarao told reporters.

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