Unions to hold dharna in Delhi demanding action against ‘all the people’ involved.
New Delhi: Bank employee unions are rallying around colleagues caught in the turbulence of scams and frauds that have been reported in recent months, including the Rs 12,600 crore alleged fraud at Punjab National Bank involving diamantaire Nirav Modi, demanding that low-level staff not be made scapegoats.
Seeking a joint parliamentary committee probe into the PNB scam, the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) will hold a dharna outside the Parliament House on March 21.
“Take tough action against the people involved and don’t confine (prosecution) to the lower-level staff. There are a lot of people involved in this, including the RBI,” said All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam.
Seven employees of PNB have been arrested so far as part of the CBI’s investigation into unauthorised loans allegedly secured by Nirav Modi’s and his uncle Mehul Choksi’s firms on the basis of fraudulent letters of undertaking issued by bank staffers. Among them are a retired deputy manager, a single window operator and an auditor.
“The loan has been given through a foreign branch of another bank without verification,” said Venkatachalam.
“The amount must have gone through PNB’s Nostro account (an account a bank opens in another based abroad, usually in the currency of the country where the latter is based), and the Nostro account is monitored by the RBI and the head office of the bank,” he added.
Venkatachalam said the government should “take action against everyone involved”.
The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has also joined the protest chorus. AITUC general secretary Amarjit Kaur said they would join bank unions in organising protests outside Parliament as well as across India.
She said the PNB fraud was the result of a “nexus between politicians and big business”. “AITUC stands with bank employees. We know they are being made scapegoats. No lower-level employee has any right to sanction high amounts,” she added.
The Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) was more cautious in its reaction. “We are waiting and watching. We will intervene only after the investigation is complete,” BEFI president C.J. Nandkumar said.
“However, if the investigation leads to only lower-ranking employees being victimised, we will intervene,” he added.
“Nobody can blame only the lower-ranking employees. It is impossible. It was definitely in the knowledge of higher-ups,” Nandkumar said.