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RBI to go after erring bank auditors

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Mumbai :The Reserve Bank of India has decided to crack the whip on banks’ statutory auditors whose certification of banks’ books has later been found to have lapses.
“In the interest of improving audit quality and with a view to instituting a transparent mechanism to examine accountability of statutory auditors (SA) in a consistent manner, it has been decided to put in place a graded enforcement action framework to enable appropriate action by the RBI in respect of the banks’ SAs for any lapses observed in conducting a bank’s statutory audit,” the central bank said in a notification on its website.
Any action taken on an audit firm, including serving a caution notice, will be communicated to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, and such communication will be placed in the public domain by the RBI.
The central bank has found wide divergence in asset classifications in banks’ books. Besides, the role of Punjab National Bank’s SAs has also come into question in the recent Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi scam.
Under the framework, the RBI will take action against, apart from erring auditors, those responsible for wrong information in a bank’s financial statements, incorrect certification given by auditors, wrong information given in the Long Form Audit Report, and any other violations of the RBI’s rules and regulations on auditing.
The RBI said if the quality of audit was not found satisfactory, the central bank might not approve statutory auditors’ appointments for doing statutory audit in commercial banks for a specified period.
The central bank also may not approve auditors debarred by other regulators, or government agencies.
“As regards the cases pending against auditors with the aforesaid agencies, the RBI would debar such audit firms, provided the case is of serious nature, where public interest is involved and it is established, prima facie, that the firm is culpable, either by the RBI or by the above entities and brought to the RBI’s notice.”
Violations of rules would be assessed in terms of impact on a bank’s capital to risk-weighted assets ratio, considering the amount involved in divergence-related cases, and, in the case of other lapses, the impact would be calculated in terms of the effect on the bank’s business area concerned, the RBI said.
If lapses are found, the RBI will give auditors a reasonable opportunity of being heard. The central bank would serve a notice “requiring them to show cause, in writing, as to why the action as indicated in the show-cause notice should not be taken”.
The audit firm will be given 15 days to respond.
“The RBI would provide a reasonable opportunity to the audit firm concerned for presenting its views in the matter, including through oral hearing, if it so desires or at the request of the audit firm.”


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RBI needs to ensure stability: Shaktikanta Das

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New Delhi: The head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said he would take the steps necessary to maintain financial stability in the country and help create favourable conditions for growth.

India’s economy has grown because of measures such as the nationwide goods and services tax and the insolvency and bankruptcy code that prevents wilful defaulters from bidding for stressed assets, Shaktikanta Das said in his address to an investor roundtable.

The country’s growth story is backed by its strong domestic fundamentals, he said, citing lower inflation.

 

Annual retail inflation rate dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December, strengthening the views of some economists that the central bank could ease monetary policy next month.

India’s top business groups on Thursday urged the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate by at least half a percentage point and lower the cash reserve ratio it imposes on banks.

The country also needs to watch out for any sudden turbulence in the gloal financial market, Das said.

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Centre removes two PNB executive directors for lapses in Rs 13,500-cr fraud

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Chennai:The Central government has removed two Punjab National Bank (PNB) Executive Directors — Sanjiv Sharan and K.Veera Brahmaji Rao — for the lapses in the Rs 13,500 crore fraud allegedly perpetrated by absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi.

The PNB has intimated the action to the stock exchanges.

“We welcome the Central government’s action to dismiss the two Executive Directors. The scam of such proportions could not have happened without the knowledge of the top management,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), told IANS.

 

“Perhaps for the first time, the Centra has removed the Executive Directors of a nationalised bank under the Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provision) Scheme, 1970. All these days it was said the top management of government-owned banks — Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors — are governed only by the contract of appointment.

“It is also good that the central government has followed the due process of giving the two PNB Executive Directors opportunity to put forth their views before dismissing them,” Venkatachalam added.

According to the Central government’s notification, on July 3, 2018, Sharan and Rao were issued a show cause notice as to why they could not be removed from office for having failed to exercise proper control over the functioning of PNB, thus enabling the fraud through the misuse of SWIFT at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai.

After considering Sharan and Rao’s replies and the comments of the bank’s Board, the Centre removed them from office as it found it was expedient in the interests of PNB.

According to the notification, the dismissal of Rao is subject to the outcome of a plea in the Delhi High Court.

“We are happy to see some action being taken. Whether it is only the two Executive Directors and other officials are also involved in the scam has to be probed in full,” Venkatachalam said.

According to him, in the past, low-level officers would have been the scapegoats for such massive scams.

“With the action taken on the top management, people will be satisfied that public sector bank officials are answerable for their lapses,” Venkatachalam added.

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In this new world, data is the new wealth: Ambani

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Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against ‘data colonisation’, specially by global corporations, stating that Indian data must be owned by Indians.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation, Ambani said India now needs a new movement against data colonisation.

“Gandhiji led India’s movement against political colonisation. Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation,” he said Gandhinagar at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

 

Stressing that, in this new world, data is the new wealth, Ambani said, “India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporate, especially global corporations.”

He further said, “For India to succeed in this data driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India. In other words, give Indian wealth back to every Indian.”

Stating that the “entire world has come to recognise” Modi “as a man of action”, Ambani said, “Honorable Prime Minister, am sure you will make this one of the principal goals of your digital India mission.”

Later in the day, countering Ambani’s call, Governor – Commonwealth of Kentucky, Matthew Griswold, asked Modi “to think in the opposite” in order to realise the tremendous opportunity that lies in Indo-US partnership.

“Honorable prime minister you have been asked from this stage to think about limiting the amount of competition, limiting the exchange of ideas, information and goods. I would encourage you to think in the opposite,” he said.

While stating that it is important to put the people of India first, Griswold said, “It is also important to put their opportunity and our opportunity as citizens of the world to trade with one another and exchange ideas because iron sharpens iron.”

The greatest possibility comes from the exchange of these idea, he added.

“If we can cut the regulations, cut the bureaucracy, cut the red tape, the opportunity is enormous between our nations,” he added that India is now the 10th largest trading partner for the US and “climbing quickly”.

“The opportunity before us between India and the United States is incredible, but responsibility falls on each of one us, those of us in elected positions, those of you in the industry, those of you who represent various constituencies, we have much work to do…we must do this, ” Griswold said.

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