Reserve-Bank-of-India

Bank may ask certified passport details of borrowers

DAINIK NATION BUREAU

In a bid to prevent the borrowers, who prefer to leave country in case of defaulter, bank may seek certified passport details of the borrowers in coming days.

The finance ministry may ask state-run lenders to seek the certified passport details of borrowers with an exposure of Rs 50 crore.

This comes as the government is expected to table the Fugitive Economic Offenders bill in the ongoing session of parliament. The idea is under deliberation, the official said.

“We are trying to ensure a more effective coordination between banks, intelligence agencies and other government departments,” he said. “In cases where banks feel that there is some fraudulent activity in a particular account, they can inform the agencies in advance.”

The government is of view that such information sharing may help prevent defaulters and fraudsters from leaving the country to evade banks and investigating agencies. Jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, .at the centre of the Rs 12,622-crore Punjab National Bank fraud, are said to have left the country before it became public.

The government has also been unsuccessfully seeking to get Vijay Mallya extradited from the UK for defaulting on Kingfisher Airlines’ debt repayments. Mallya is also being sought for questioning over accusations of money laundering.

Former cricket administrator Lalit Modi is another person the government has been trying to bring back to India without success. All have denied wrongdoing. Having the passport details may discourage those who could be tempted to flee the country, said the official cited above.

“Already a series of steps have been taken to identify wilful defaulters. By seeking certified copies of their passport we believe there will be additional pressure on the promoters as they will be aware that they can be stopped at the airport if they try to flee,” he said.

Last week, the finance ministry directed state-run banks to examine non-performing loans of more than Rs 50 crore for any sign of wrongdoing. The finance ministry called on banks to inform investigative agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) if any such activity was detected.

“PSB (public sector bank) MDs (managing directors) directed to detect bank frauds & consequential wilful default in time & refer cases to CBI. To examine all NPA (non-performing asset) accounts Rs 50 crore for possible fraud,” department of financial services secretary Rajeev Kumar had tweeted.

The union cabinet last week cleared a tough Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, to seize all the assets of specified offenders if they flee the country.

NB–ET

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