RBI sees no evidence of money laundering by ICICI, Axis, HDFC Bank

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today clarified that it has found no evidence of money laundering in financial transactions involving the country's top three private sector banks - ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis bank – as suggested in the Cobrapost expose.

In an expose last month, online portal Cobrapost had reported that employees of ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are offering to convert clients' black money through deposits without the regulator or any other bodies noticing it.

"In none of their branches there was a case of money laundering...  No transaction has taken place," RBI deputy governor KC Chakrabarty said.

''There is no problem at a transactional level, some aberrations will always take place. There is a need to look into these issues," he said.

He, however, said the central bank is having a fresh look into the way banks do business at present, including a review of the KYC (know your customer) norms.

He said RBI and the banks will take corrective measures, if and when needed, adding that it is currently undertaking thematic review in 34 other banks as well.

Meanwhile, minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena today informed Parliament that the RBI and the ministry's financial intelligence unit are looking into the allegations of money laundering by the three private lenders and action will be taken accordingly.

He said the RBI as well as the finance ministry's financial intelligence unit has conducted scrutiny in these banks to look into the allegations.

The "banks concerned, i.e, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank," have also initiated enquiries and sent it an interim report, he said.

"These reports are being examined with a view to initiate further action for violations, if any, of the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, concerning non-fulfilment of the obligations to verify the identity of the customers, maintain records and file statutory reports by FIU-IND," Meena said.

The statutory reports include cash transaction report and suspicious transaction report.

HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank have suspended their employees reported in the sting operation while Axis Bank has transferred the employees involved from operational assignments to administrative office, he added.