The National Federation of Urban Co-operative Banks and Credit Societies (NAFCUB) has urged the Reserve Bank of India that all efforts should be directed towards making recoveries from major non-performing assets (NPAs) of the crisis-ridden Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank. Further, it wants the guilty to be punished for the financial mess that the bank is now in.
The aforementioned steps alone will restore the confidence of the depositors in the co-operative sector and in the regulation of the RBI, according to Jyotindra Mehta, President, NAFCUB.
“From our past experience of the Madhavpura (Mercantile Co-operative Bank) episode almost two decades back, which is still fresh in our memory, we feel the main culprits were under tremendous pressure at the initial stage due to the public outcry at the imposition of restrictions and even offered to return part of the monies immediately provided they were given time for repayment of the balance amount in stages,” said Mehta in a letter to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.
However, the anxiety of the authorities to follow due process of law gave sufficient time to the culprits to regroup and fight out a long drawn legal battle, he added.
Mumbai-based PMC Bank got into trouble as its huge exposure to the bankrupt HDIL Group was reported as standard despite the loans not being serviced over the last 2-3 years. The bank’s exposure to this realty group is reportedly about ₹6,500 crore, accounting for 73 per cent of its total loan book.
The RBI placed PMC Bank under Directions for six months with effect from the close of its business on September 23, restricting withdrawal from deposits, and stopping it from granting or renewing any loans and advances, and making any investment.
According to the central bank, the Directions were necessitated on account of major financial irregularities, failure of internal control and systems of the bank and wrong/under-reporting of its exposures under various Off-site Surveillance reports to the RBI that came to its notice recently.
NAFCUB suggested that at this juncture the RBI, the Agriculture Ministry (which is the controlling ministry for multi-state co-operative societies), the Finance Ministry along with the Federation and other stakeholders should meet at the earliest and take stock of the situation to ensure possible recoveries of the largest NPAs of PMC Bank in the quickest possible time and of other measures if the recoveries are likely to be delayed.
PMC Bank’s former MD Joy Thomas, in a letter to the RBI, disclosed that though some of the accounts (of the HDIL Group) were not performing well, it was not brought to the notice of the board. The subsequent overdues of various loans were also not reported to the board, he added.
“The concealment of information from board, auditors and regulators was due to the fear of reputational loss...Till 2019, some of the accounts were reported and shown but many legacy accounts were not reported to the board,” Thomas said.
As per Thomas’ letter, the stressed legacy accounts belonging to this group were replaced with dummy accounts to match the outstanding balances in the balance-sheet. As the loans were mentioned as loans against deposits and were of lower amounts, they were never checked by the RBI, it added.