For long, bankers have been stereotyped as professiols with impeccable integrity, as sticklers for detail and fine print, as safe custodians of our hard-earned money. That impression remains largely true, but sadly a number of black sheep are bringing disrepute to the community of bankers. The Enforcement Directorate has now traced another case involving alleged laundering of black money in Hong Kong to the tune of Rs 500 crore at the Oriental Bank of Commerce. Earlier, the Bank of Baroda got entangled in an illegal funds transfer case, with Rs 6,172 crore remitted from a New Delhi branch to Hong Kong camouflaged as payments for non-existent imports like cashew, pulses and rice. Six people have already been arrested including employees of Bank of Baroda and HDFC Bank in this huge forex scam. But this may just be the tip of a much bigger scam. It must be remembered though that it was the Bank of Baroda authorities who first alerted the ED and CBI about the unusual transactions in their New Delhi branch. Bankers as a tribe retain their trustworthiness, but must now be alert to check misdeeds by errant colleagues. In Assam too, there have been frequent cases of uuthorised money withdrawal from accounts using ATM PIN numbers or internet banking passwords of customers, demanding commissions in granting loans and other misdemeanours — in which some bank personnel have been found involved. This is something customers need to be watchful about, and report at the earliest to law enforcement agencies, customer grievance redressal departments and the banking ombudsman.
Reining in errant bankers