PUNE: In an alleged case of fraudulent transaction, the state-owned Bank of India (BoI) transferred Rs 19.6 lakh from term deposit accounts with its Khar (Mumbai) branch to its Kowloon (Hong Kong) branch and then to an HSBC Bank account in Kowloon, four years after the death of the account holders.
Bank officials said it was done on the instructions of the account holders. Jawahar Chugani and his wife Shakuntala Chugani died on September 3, 2008 and August 25, 2008, respectively. On May 8, 2009, all banks and financial institutions were informed about the deaths via a letter sent through registered post by the family lawyer.
Triveni Rateshwar (80), Shakuntala’s sister and legal heir to the deceased couple, was granted the letter of administration by the Mumbai High Court in January 2015.
In spite of poor health, she has been running from pillar to post to get the amount, but in vain.
Triveni approached the Khar branch for a settlement of the above mentioned claim. “After a few months, the bank gave a reply stating that the funds were transferred in February 2012 to the Kowloon branch as per instructions of the deceased. She then approached the zonal and head office of BoI for further action. But there was no response from the bank for more than a year. An application was again submitted in September 2017. She visited Hong Kong twice but the bank refused to provide any justification as they had already committed the fraudulent transaction. The bank, on November 9, 2017, sent an email stating that the Kowloon branch has transferred the funds on March 16, 2012 to the HSBC account of the deceased on receipt of his application,” said Kunal Rateshwar, Triveni’s nephew.
He added, “When we questioned the bank as to how a deceased person can make applications for funds transfer, the bank stopped replying even after sending a number of emails and reminders of the request. A complaint regarding the same has been filed with the Banking Ombudsman in Mumbai a few months back. Bank of India has flouted the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The accounts were still active four years after their deaths and no ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) was done. The Kowloon branch was sent a letter informing them of the death, which they showed us during our visit to Hong Kong.”
Sakal Times sought a response from the bank but there was no reply even after repeated reminders. An email sent to BoI Managing Director and CEO Dinabandhu Mohapatra also went unanswered.
BANK’S REPLY TO LEGAL HEIR
- “After the term deposits matured on February 18, 2012, the maturity amount was remitted to the (Kowloon branch) account as per the instructions of the account holders with us. As such, there are no deposits lying with our branch to the credit of Mr Jawahar Chugani and Mrs Shakuntala Chugani as of now,” states a letter received from the chief manager of the bank on March 17, 2017.
- “As per the available records of the branch. We had received funds from Khar branch for account no *******. The branch had then remitted the funds to Mr Jawahar Bhagchand Chugani account with HSBC on receipt of his application on 16.03.2012 vide Reference No ***** dated 16.03.2012,” states the email received on November 7, 2017, from the bank. It was sent to the bank by their Kowloon branch.
INSTRUCTIONS OF THE DECEASED
Jawahar and Shakuntala held term deposits of Rs 9.61 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively, the interest of which used to get transferred to their Kowloon account, as they were residing in Hong Kong since 1999. They died in 2008, but BoI claims it transferred the money to their Kowloon account on their instructions in 2012. It was later transferred to an HSBC account.