Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Axis Bank Ltd: "Instrument of Torture"
The harassment by public/private sector banks and "Gundagardi" (hooliganism) adopted by ICICI Bank to recover bad loans is known to all. But what about Axis Bank Ltd, the bank, which many say is well managed? Bloomberg once reported: 
"Axis Bank Ltd. is Asia’s best-performing bank stock in the past year as it extends loans at twice the pace of Indian rivals wary of the highest stressed assets in more than a decade". 
But wait, the data is yet to come. Axis Bank’s restructured advances amounted to 2.37%t of net customer assets as of December 31, 2014 according to data on the company’s website. Now you can calculate the amount and I am sure it will turn out to be few thousand crore. I feel I do not have to explain what, restructuring of loan means in real terms and how money is thrown under the table to get the unsecured loans passed. 

Also, restructured loans in India’s banking system represented 5.94% of total lending, data provided by the finance ministry in New Delhi shows. Now do one thing: Just find out whose loans the bank have restructured or in that group, how many individual accounts are there and how many accounts belong to corporates. 

Moreover, we know that the third largest private sector lender Axis Bank. has an exposure of Rs.50 crore to the Kingfisher Airlines Ltd that has not flown since October 2012. Did the bank get the loan back?

Now when the banks lose thousands of crore in the  name of restructuring then it seems to be normal. However, when it comes to the individual investors, private sector banks like Axis Bank Ltd looks to have all rules in place, so that maximum problem causes for the consumers and they can hold back the funds without paying any interest rates for years. 

For example, I am a nominee of the account of my mom, which has some balance (not much, only few lakhs) in my hometown in Assam. When my brother approached the bank branch there, the Axis Bank officials very reluctantly said that there has to be an in-person verification to get the money transferred to my account. I thought it is fine, as there is  nothing to hide. 

Meanwhile, I lost my PAN CARD and some other documents, so I asked my lawyer to prepare an affadavit so that I can prove my identity. 

Accordingly, I reached one of the Axis Bank branches in Mumbai (MMR). The bank officials there first said, that such claim has to be settled only by the local branch. But when I said, that it will take at least 4-5 days to reach my destination by train (I generally do not travel by air, as I have breathing problem) in Assam, they said insensitively: "You have to go there and settle the issue". 

When I further argued that the local branch has asked me to visit any branch and get the problem solved. The said officials said: "Ok, then show me ur original documents, so that we can send a scanned copy of the same for process to start". 

When I said, that I do not have the identification proof, as is prescribed by the bank and have the court affidavit, they said they cannot help; as "Affidavit is not a valid document" according to RBI rules, as it is only a "declaration". When I said, "Do, you want to say, that I bluffed (told lies) infront of the court". They said, they cannot consider only the documents mentioned by the RBI to be used as ID proof or wait for sometime, till new PAN card comes. I even asked if it is possible that a person identifies me in Mumbai.....but alas everything fell on their deaf ears. Such is the nature of their high-handedness, these banks show when you give your money to them.....Huh!! 

Then I again approached the local branch from Mumbai (I called a guy there), and requested him to see if it is possible that my brother would go to his AXIS Bank branch with my Voter ID card and I would present the duplicate here in Mumbai--they are at liberty to cross check, both the original and duplicate at both the ends and start the procedure. He said why I do not want to place the original in Mumbai. I said, "It will take some time to reach the ID card from Assam to here in Mumbai and also there is a chance of the card getting lost on the way". 

But then again nothing could melt the ice--the bank official surprisingly said, "No this is not possible, you need to be present in front of the Bank officials with ID PROOF". When I said, why are you harassing me, when the money is mine, he said "We have to go by the rules". 

Now my question is: if such is the attitude of any bank, when a person of my stature is concerned, then you can understand how they deal with innocent (and illiterate) bank account holders. 

I do not think, after this kind of incident, it can be said that AXIS BANK is the best performing bank in India. It is one those banks, who will hold your money for their own interest, by showing all sorts of rules. Remember, they have not been paying any interest on my matured Fixed Deposit, since 2012. Nor they have sent me repeated reminders that my money is lying with them. But I am sure they have used my money for lending.  

Also, I will now have to wait till my New PAN Card, Driving License, etc comes or my brother sends my Voter ID Card from Assam, to my home address here; with a caveat, that there is ample chance of getting that lost on the way. 

Anyway, I have asked my lawyer to find out if any legal action can be taken against the bank, apart from filing a law suit for adequate compensation (for the loss of time and energy).

Hence, I oppose any move by the government to have a bank account, compulsorily. It is my wish, whether I should have a bank account or not--why should the government force me for the same...? I feel someone should file a PIL in any higher court, against any such move to make bank account, a fundamental criterion to open a demat account.

Therefore, when you deal with private or public sector bank, be blunt to deal with them firmly; so that they understands that they are playing with  your money and cannot show too much "Dada-giri". Or in other words, they are doing business with our money and hence they need to be dealt accordingly. 

Most of these banks are "The Instruments of Torture" and therefore, the government should make rules so that the rules are framed in a way, so that there is minimum trouble for the account holderes. 
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