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Raman quits RBI panel, says CBI chargesheet created ‘anguish’

On the loan to Winsome Diamond, Raman's email said that “we have less than 8 per cent in the consortium, in which the leader has more than 40 per cent, besides six other banks".

Head office of Winsome Diamonds at Opera House in Mumbai. (Express Photo by Vasant Prabhu)

Former Canara Bank Chairman and MD S Raman, against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a charge sheet in connection with an alleged loan default of Rs 146 crore by Jatin Mehta-owned Winsome Diamonds, has quit from the Reserve Bank of India’s ‘Expert committee on NPAs and frauds’, stating that it has “created a huge amount of anguish in my heart”.

“My only asset i.e. my character and unimpeachable reputation is suddenly under a cloud. I need to clear my name, and this has to be my priority,” said Raman, who was CMD of Canara Bank, in an emailed resignation letter to the RBI panel. The CBI has filed a charge sheet against two former chairman-cum-managing directors of the Canara Bank — AC Mahajan and Raman — leaving many bankers nervous and upset after a spate of arrests by the CBI over the last few months.

“Until I get my fair name restored, I should not be associated with any government/ RBI assignments, keeping in mind the lofty standards of corporate governance which the two committees I have been associated with have recommended,” Raman said. “Because of my exemplary career, the government appointed me Wholetime Member of the Sebi in December 2012, where too I had an outstanding tenure.”

On the loan to Winsome Diamond, Raman’s email said that “we have less than 8 per cent in the consortium, in which the leader has more than 40 per cent, besides six other banks. My role as the CMD was heading the Management Committee of the board which approved two renewals in January 2011 and March 2012 with the bank’s share pegged below 8 per cent. The external credit rating by Crisil was P1, and the internal ratings were acceptable as per the internal credit policy of the bank.” “The conduct of the account was good, both with Canara Bank and every other bank in the consortium.

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The prescribed procedures and processes were scrupulously followed, and the internal reports of the bank do not indicate any lapses on the part of any of the staff in the bank,” he said. “Despite all this and almost six years of my retirement from the bank, I have been put in this impossible situation,” he said. After Raman retired from the Sebi in September 2017, the RBI under Governor, Urjit Patel made him a member of the Oversight Committee on NPAs. “With the winding up of this committee in February 2018, I was appointed Member of the Committee on NPAs and frauds,” he said.

He was also a member of the ‘Committee on corporate governance in banks in India’ headed by PJ Nayak and which was appointed during the term of the previous Governor, Raghuram Rajan. “I would like to legitimately think that I was repeatedly considered for prestigious assignments by the government and the RBI only because of my qualities of probity and professional competence,” Raman said.

Winsome Diamonds and group companies have allegedly defaulted over Rs 7000 crore of banks funds. Banks have already declared the company and its promoter Jatin Mehta as willful defaulters.

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Senior bankers said the Canara Bank case is similar to the Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) episode where the latter was only one of the lenders which approved the loan when the company was doing well. Bankers have pointed out that it was strange how other banks which participated in the Winsome loan besides Canara Bank have not been served any notice. A series of arrests of bankers by investigative agencies in the recent past has spread panic and nervousness among top bankers and the Indian Banks Association (IBA) had decided to approach the government for remedial action and called for forming an independent committee to give clearances to initiate criminal proceedings against senior bankers.

First published on: 01-07-2018 at 01:57 IST
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