Anti-graft panel wants Corporation Bank chief queried

After an inquiry into the Mangalore-based Corporation Bank the anti-graft commission had indicted Pradeep and forwarded a 60-page report to the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the finance ministry.

"Department of Financial Services is advised to obtain the explanation of the chairman and managing director on the lapses noticed by the inquiry officer in the report and forward (it) to the commission with the department's comments," the commission said.
"The commission also desires appropriate measures be immediately taken by the department to immediately restrain the chairman and managing director from further abuse," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained through the Right to Information Act.

Access to the 60-page report was however denied as it also pertained to client details.
Pradeep says he had done no wrong. "Certain vested interests have singled me out and it appears I am being targeted based on some external sources. I did not exercise my powers with any malafide intent or shown some undue accommodation, favours to anyone," he said.

"All the commercial decisions are taken as per standard banking procedures. I have not given any preferential treatment to the private sector, over public sector borrowers," Pradeep told IANS.

It its letter to Financial Services Secretary S.K. Sharma, the commission said Pradeep had abused his authority by transgressing his powers with malafide intent, showing some undue favours in awarding consultancy and retainership for automatic teller machines.
The letter further said such favours were also shown in granting advances and altering the decision-making process of the bank to accommodate some parties, while sanctioning the advances.

But Pradeep denied any wrong-doing, including the charge that the public sector bank had imposed higher interest rate on state-run firms such as the National Aviation Company of India, which runs Air India, as compared with private players.

"All bankers take lending decisions on day-to-day basis factoring in the call money rate that changes daily and other parameters, in addition to other factors such as the credit rating and the financial condition of the borrowers," he said.

"If my decisions are being questioned, then the decisions of other bank chairmen should also be questioned," he added.

"Our exposure to Air India is some Rs.1,300 crore. We had lent the money at 12 percent. The airline is making losses. It agreed to our terms. It's a purely commercial decision. The loan is partially unsecured and hence the rate will be slightly higher."

He said the loans are sanctioned by management committees and other major decisions are taken by the bank's board of directors and none of the loan accounts that was accUsed of having shown favoUrs had turned bad or non-performing.

"Power is given to a bank chairman to be exercised. But I have not exceeded the limits, or acted with any mala fide intent," he said.

"I am preparing my responses and will submit it to the department in a week's time. It is a 60-page report and one needs time to study it. Further, to reply to that, one has to read several hundreds of pages of loan proposals and others."

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