The government told parliament that half-a dozen managing directors and CEOs of commercial banks have been facing probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcing Directorate (ED), although no arrests have been made so far. Separately, the CBI has sought prosecution of over 800 public sector bank employees, including presidential appointees such as chairmen, MDs and executive directors of state-run entities since 2017. In at least 139 cases, the government had declined request for prosecution, the finance ministry said in Lok Sabha.
The ministry, however, was silent on whether the probe involved serving or former top bankers. Apart from former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar, ex-PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, and United Bank’s former CMD Archana Bhargava and ex-UCO Bank boss Arun Kaul are among those facing investigation. An inquiry need not translate into prosecution.
In recent years, action against bankers has been on the rise. “Banking corruption and occurrence of frauds was enabled by lack of discipline in the financial system and a lax credit culture across various stakeholders. The role of bankers, too, was not as rigorously examined earlier, and auditors were not independently regulated. Through extensive reforms, change in credit culture has been instituted and controls have been tightened for every stakeholder in the financial system, which has enabled a tighter check on corruption and decline in occurrence of frauds,” the government said in response to a question.
A spurt in non-performing assets as well as frauds like the Punjab National Bank scam have spurred probe agencies into action.