The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has plans to expand its operations in the country’s financial capital and is also looking to inaugurate a cybercrime cell soon. Close on the heels of the grand inauguration of the CBI’s headquarters in Mumbai recently, the Central agency took to task the bankers for failing to report big defaulters on time.
“Yes. After Delhi, we want Mumbai to be our second-most important office in the country. Mumbai is the financial capital of India and we want to check the growing financial crimes,” a top official told The Sunday Guardian. “The nature of financial crimes has changed drastically in the past few years. The use of technology in such crimes has increased. We will use the new cybercrime cell to work with the other cells for speedy and effective detection of crimes,” CBI director Anil Sinha told reporters here.
In an indication of the CBI’s priority for expanding its foothold in Mumbai, the agency, for the first time in seven years, held its annual conference with the Chief Vigilance Officers of the public banks in the city. Till now, the meetings were held in Delhi. The agency also expanded its ambit to include RBI, SEBI, NABARD and insurance companies. The heads of private banks, foreign banks and co-operative banks were also a part of the conference. It was jointly hosted by the CBI and the IBA (Indian Banks’ Association). The theme of the conference was “Combating bank frauds and financial crimes”. “The plans for Mumbai are grand. The inauguration and the conference are the dots. Join them and you will see the larger picture,” an official told The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity.
During the inauguration of the conference, the CBI targeted the private and public banks for failing to report about the defaulters on time. It also rapped them for not registering a case against Vijay Mallya, the liquor baron. The CBI had suo motu initiated action against Mallya.
“The private banks, too, handle people’s money. So they are accountable to the people. These frauds and defaults are not limited to PSUs alone. Moreover, the banks err because their priorities are different. They want their money back in some way or the other. Registering a complaint against the big defaulter is not their priority. That is where the big defaulters escape the net. This leads to a very strong public perception that the rich and powerful go scot-free, whereas the average people are heavily penalised and haunted even for minor delays,” a top CBI officer told this newspaper.
“We want to change this perception that the rich get away lightly and splurge all the public money. That is why we requested the banks to co-operate with us, so we can strike a balance between their goal and our goal,” the official said.
Giving the example of Kingfisher, Sinha said, “The CBI has recently registered a case of cheating and fraud against Kingfisher and its erstwhile management involving allegations of defrauding banks to the tune of nearly Rs 7,000 crore.”