The finance ministry on Tuesday said there has been no rise in bank frauds in recent years, and an RBI reply to an RTI query on the issue pertained to the year in which the frauds were reported and not the year when they occurred. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in an RTI reply had disclosed that over 6,800 cases of bank fraud involving an unprecedented Rs 71,500 crore were reported in 2018-19 as against a total of 5,916 such cases in 2017-18 involving Rs 41,167.03 crore.
“The fact is that this data is by the year of reporting and not the year of occurrence of the fraud or sanction of loan, letter of undertaking etc, which in many cases is of an earlier period,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
The RBI data on frauds reported to it by banks has been cited in sections of the media to paint a picture of rising frauds in banks in recent years, the ministry said.
The ministry said proactive measures undertaken by the government in past few months have led to increase in detection and reporting of bank frauds.
Occurrence of fraud, it said, was enabled by laxity in the financial system which has been systematically dealt with through comprehensive banking reforms initiated by the government to address underlying cases and provide for proactive checking for and detection of frauds.
Citing some of the key initiatives taken by the government, the statement said banks were asked to examine all NPA accounts over Rs 50 crore from possible fraud angle and proactive action were taken against wilful defaulters, with FIRs being registered by PSBs against 2,881 wilful defaulters.
In addition, public sector banks (PSBs) were advised to seek a report on the borrower from the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, in case an account turns NPA, it said, adding, rotational transfer of officials/employees on sensitive posts were also undertaken.
For enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits, the government has established National Financial Reporting Authority as an independent regulator.
Besides, the government enacted Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 in order to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts. The law was enacted in aftermath of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi episode to put a check on these kind of incidences.