Depositors panic as RBI limits co-op bank withdrawals

Depositors panic as RBI limits co-op bank withdrawals

Depositors in front of the Sri Guru Raghavendra Co-operative Bank in Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on Monday. DH Photo/Srikanta Sharma R

Panic gripped customers of the South Bengaluru-based urban co-operative bank (UCB), Sri Guru Raghavendra Sahakara Bank, after RBI cracked the whip on the bank by limiting withdrawals by depositors to just Rs 35,000.

Thousands of customers thronged all eight branches of the bank across the city on Monday, but the bank's top management avoided any interaction with them.

The bank had called for a meeting of the depositors to address the concerns at Sri Guru Narasimha Kalyana Mandira on Bull Temple Road on Monday evening. However, the UCB's founder and president K Ramakrishna, who was slated to address over 15,000 depositors assembled there, didn't show up, with the bank citing that he was "stuck in a traffic jam" throughout the one-hour long meeting.

While many depositors that DH spoke to were unhappy with the bank's response to the situation and were sensing some foul play, the management played down their concerns multiple times by stating, "We won't cheat you."

Most of the bank's depositors included senior citizens and pensioners, who had deposited their money because of their affiliations. "Most of the customers at the bank have been lured in the name of religion. They came to our Mutt and marketed themselves there. So, most of the customers followed it blindly," said a young chartered accountant whose family has deposits worth Rs 15 lakh in the bank.

Yet another customer blamed the bank's management for flouting RBI guidelines over the issue. "Obviously, they wouldn't have adhered with RBI guidelines. Why would the RBI even crack down against it," asked another customer standing in a long queue outside the bank's branch in Basavangudi.

As the concerns of the customers increased during the day, many other UCBs also got hit in the city, as depositors went on a withdrawal spree, said one of the directors of a city-based UCB.

Even as the bank's management avoided giving reasons for RBI's crackdown, sources in the know said the bank had seen defaults of Rs 350 crore in the past three months — which translated into a whopping 30.4% of their Rs 1,150.94 crore advances.

The bank's CEO M V Maiya declined to comment.

The bank had 8,614 members at the end of March 31, 2018, pitching up a share capital worth Rs 52 crore. The bank’s advances stood at Rs 1,150.94 crore, while the reported gross NPA ratio stood at a mere 0.45%, as reported. The company, however, hasn’t filed any financials for this year.

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