RBI says 1913 wilful defaulters together owe Rs 1.46 lakh cr to banks as on Jun 2020

Hyderabad, Dec 17 (Agency) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said there are 1,913 wilful defaulters, who together owed Rs 1.46 lakh crore to banks as on June 2020. Pune-based RTI activist Vivek Velankar had filed the RTI application with RBI to get information on wilful defaulters. He said, “The information shared by RBI reveals that there are 264 wilful defaulters who defaulted on a loan of Rs 100 crore and above owe Rs 1,08,527 crore to banks.

Sharing with UNI, the RBI information to Mr Velankar, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) General Secretary Ch Venkatachalam on Thursday said, ‘While the common borrowers are struggling with repaying equated monthly instalments (EMIs) of their loans and also face harassment for missing a single EMI, big and wilful defaulters seem to not only go scot-free but also ‘live life king-size’ without any worry or fear of any action due to the the banks, especially the public sector banks (PSBs), turning a blind eye on these lapses.’ He said there are 23 defaulters with an outstanding of over Rs 1,000 crore and their dues accrue to Rs 43,324 crore. Wilful defaulters who owe between Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore to banks are 34 and their outstanding is Rs 22,105 crore. There are 207 wilful defaulters in the Rs 100 crore to Rs 500 crore default range and together they owe Rs 43,095 crore to Public Sector Banks. RBI told Mr Velankar that the concerned banks have filed cases to recover their dues from these wilful defaulters. While RBI shared this information under the RTI, Mr Velankar felt since banks are submitting these lists of wilful defaulters under a regulatory mandate, the central bank should suo motu publish this information on its website to create awareness among citizens and bank customers. Topping the wilful defaulters’ list is Mehul Choksi’s scam-hit company Gitanjali Gems Limited, which owed Rs 5,747.05 crore, besides other group companies, Gili India Limited and Nakshatra Brands Limited, which had taken loans of Rs 1,446 crore and Rs 1,109.16 crore, respectively.

The second on the list is REI Agro Limited, with an amount of Rs. 3,516 crore, and its Directors Sandip Jhujhunwala and Sanjay Jhunjhunwala are already under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the past more than a year. The next on the list is Frost International Limited with an outstanding of Rs 3,097.64 crore. It is followed by the absconding diamantaire Jatin Mehta’s Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery owing Rs 2,975.73 crore and which is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for various bank frauds. Kanpur-based writing instruments giant, Rotomac Global Private Limited, part of the famed Kothari group, is next on the list with an outstanding of Rs 2,530.95 crore. The others among the top-10 wilful defaulters include, Kudos Chemie, Punjab (Rs 1,948.12 crore), ABG Shipyard Limited (Rs 1,874.90 crore), Transstroy (India) Limited (Rs 1,861.11 crore) and Forever Precious Jewellery and Diamonds Private Limited (Rs1,653.25 crore). Another bad-boy of bank defaults, Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines Limited is at the 15th place on the list with dues of Rs 1,335.26 crore. Interestingly, the outstanding debts are higher compared with the information shared by the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) in July this year, Mr Venkatachalam said. As part of its nationwide campaign to celebrate the bank nationalisation day, the AIBEA had released a list of wilful defaulters of the PSBs. The Mehul Choksi-owned Gitanjali Gems Limited, with its default of Rs. 4,644 crore to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) topped the list. It was followed by ABG Shipyard Limited (Rs1,875 crore, owed to the State Bank of India-SBI), REI Agro Limited (Rs 1,745 crore, UCO Bank), Ruchi Soya Industries Limited (Rs1,618 crore, SBI), Gili India Limited (Rs1,447 core, PNB), Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery Limited (Rs 1,390 crore, Central Bank of India CBI), Kudos Chemie Limited (Rs1,301 crore, PNB), Nakshatra Brands Limited (Rs 1,109 crore, PNB), Coastal Projects Limited (Rs 984 crore, SBI) and Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery Limited (Rs 892 crore, PNB). These top 10 defaulters together had an outstanding of Rs 17,005 crore to state-run lenders. Information provided by RBI to Mr Velankar does not reveal names of the banks who had given these loans, the top union leader however said, data shared by AIBEA shows that among the 17 public sector lenders, SBI has the highest number of wilful defaulters at 685, who together had defaulted on loans of Rs 43,887 crore. It is followed by PNB, which has 325 wilful defaulters with an outstanding of Rs 22,370 crore.

The data shared by the bank employees’ union, however, has no information about wilful defaulters in Union Bank of India (UBI) and IDBI Bank Limited. Earlier, UBI, which had written off Rs. 26,027 crore as bad loans in past years, have stalled an RTI query from Mr Velankar on recoveries and on sharing names of big defaulters’ whose bad debt of Rs 100 crore and above were written off. “Public sector banks as well as the union government need to show some willingness and take steps to recover these dues from wilful defaulters. In fact, if the cases against wilful defaulter are decided in a fast-track court, then just from 264 wilful defaulters, banks can recover over Rs 1.08 lakh crore,” Mr Velankar, who is also the president of the Sajag Nagrik Manch, said.