ICICI suspends manager for ‘siphoning off’ ₹16 cr from customer's account - Hindustan Times

ICICI Bank suspends branch manager for ‘siphoning off’ 16 crore from customer's account. Here's what happened

By, New Delhi
Feb 26, 2024 04:54 PM IST

The customer will get all her money back once her allegation proves to be true by means of an ongoing police inquiry, an ICICI spokesperson said.

A woman who returned to India in 2016 after living for several years in the United States and Hong Kong, lost her entire life's savings, after a now-suspended ICICI Bank official allegedly defrauded her by siphoning off 16 crore ($1.9 million) from her account.

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past the facade of the ICICI bank head office in Mumbai, India, April 21, 2023. (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past the facade of the ICICI bank head office in Mumbai, India, April 21, 2023. (REUTERS)

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Shveta Sharma, the victim of the alleged fraud, had transferred the money from her US account to that of ICICI Bank, a private sector lender. She expected the bank to invest the amount in fixed deposits (FDs).

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The case

Upon her return, Sharma deposited her life savings worth 13.5 crore to the Mumbai-headquartered lender, and expected it to grow to 16 crore with interest. The deposits were made over a four-year period, from September 2019 to December 2023.

The account opened was an NRE (Non-resident External) one, at a branch in old Gurugram, near Delhi.

“I never suspected anything was amiss as the branch manager would give me proper receipts for all the deposits on the bank's stationery, regularly send me email statements from his ICICI account, and sometimes even come over with folders of documents,” Sharma told BBC.

The fraud comes to light

This January, however, the fraud came to light when another employee from the same branch offered better returns on the money. It was then that she discovered that all her FDs had vanished, and there was also an overdraft of 2.5 crore ($25 million) taken on one of the deposits.

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“He (the manager) gave me fake statements, created a fake email ID in my name, and manipulated by mobile number in bank records, so that I do not get any withdrawal notifications,” Sharma said, adding that she was traumatised to such an extent that she could not ‘get up from bed for an entire week.’

What does ICICI Bank say?

In a statement, the bank said,"Our customers are our utmost priority, and we are wholeheartedly dedicated to safeguarding their interests. In this case too, we will ensure that the customer’s financial interests are protected. In fact, we have communicated to the customer that we are ready to transfer the disputed amount of 9.27 crore (she has already encashed a fixed deposit of 2 crore) to her account with a lien, pending the outcome of the investigation."

The ICICI Bank said that it “consistently sent transaction details to her registered mobile number and email id since the accounts were opened a few years ago.”

“It is bewildering that the customer claims to be unaware of these transactions and balances in her account over the past three years, and she only recently noticed a discrepancy in her account balance. This discrepancy ought to have been observed by the customer when filing Income Tax returns as well,” the bank added.

ICICI Bank said that the customer alleged her mobile number and email ID of her account were changed without her knowledge.

“However, our records indicate that notifications regarding both changes were sent to her original mobile number and email address which were registered with the Bank. Furthermore, the new number is listed on the website of a company owned by the customer herself,” the bank said in the statement.

“Further, as an aggrieved party, we have lodged a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) of Delhi Police for a thorough investigation into the matter which appears to be much more than meets the eye. We are extending full co-operation to the Police investigation,” the lender added.

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