Many customers of the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) bank staged a protest outside the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) office in Mumbai on Saturday. The protesters carried multiple placards such as ‘Kare Koi, Bhare Koi’ (Someone will do, the other person will pay), ‘4 lives taken, it is time to realise the pain’, ‘Whom to blame for audit and fraud detection failure’ and ‘Saadda Haq, Aithe Rakh’ (Give me what’s mine, right here and right now). The PMC bank scam is being investigated by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as well. Recently, the PMC bank scam claimed its fourth victim when a PMC customer passed away as he could not withdraw the money required for his surgery.
Maharashtra: Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank depositors protest near the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) office in Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/YBy0UM1nkr— ANI (@ANI) October 19, 2019
The police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the top officials of the PMC bank and the promoters of the Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL). According to the prosecution, the bank continued giving loans to the debt-ridden HDIL from 2008 to 2019 despite the previous loans not being repaid. This caused a loss of nearly Rs.4,355 crore. Several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) such as criminal breach of trust, cheating, and forgery have been invoked against the accused. Besides the promoters of HDIL, the former Managing Director Joy Thomas, ex-Chairman Waryam Singh, and former Director Surjit Singh Arora were arrested and sent to police custody. Subsequently, on Friday, Sarang and Rakesh Wadhawan, the promoters of HDIL were remanded to ED custody till October 22. Out of 44 accounts, a total of 10 were linked to HDIL. These included the personal bank accounts of the accused.
Despite Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's assurance that she had spoken to the RBI Governor, it has failed to pacify the customers of the PMC bank. They have been severely affected by the monthly withdrawal limit being slashed to Rs. 40,000. Hundreds of aggrieved people have staged protests for more than 22 days. Their principal demands are the return of their hard-earned money stuck in the banks and the prosecution of the culprits of the scam.