On 9th September, Mr.Rajkumar, a taxi driver residing in Chennai received an SMS from his bank for a credit of Rs.9000 crores. He reportedly said that initially he thought it of a spam message or a joke message from his friends. But on seeing the message from that of TMB Bank, he tried successfully to transfer Rs.21000 to his friend’s account apparently to check the correctness of the credit. But his luck was short-lived, and the balance amount in his account was recovered by the Bank within half an hour. Later the bank officials contacted him over phone and in person. It was reported that the issue was amicably settled by the terms that he need not repay Rs.21000 and was offered with a Car loan also. Subsequently, Mr. RajKumar gave interviews in media channels which has gone viral in which he stated that he lodged a complaint against the bank in the Cyber Cell of Police department for using his account wrongfully.
Tamilnadu Mercantile Bank is an old generation private sector bank with a balance sheet of Rs.58000 crores and the liquid assets around Rs.3200 crores as on June 2023 quarter. Rs.9000 crore is a huge amount and the wrong transfer raises several questions as to the correct beneficiary of that 9000 crores. It was stated by the Bank that there was a mismatch in the account number and when funds were transferred through National Automatic Clearing House (NACH), the amount field was prefixed with number 9 and the file was uploaded in CBS. For a 100 year old bank, and in CBS system, for such a huge transaction of Rs.9000 crores whether the checks like maker checker concept existed or overlooked is surprising and raise many questions.
The Bank through its company secretary had informed NSE and BSE that there was no loss to the bank due to this incident. It was also stated that the Bank has introduced additional checks for authorizing the NACH transactions. The Bank also suspended its Chennai Service Branch Manager in this issue.
Bankers have come across many such wrong credits, though not such huge amounts, found it difficult to recover from the account holders had they withdrawn the amounts. The police department and legal system is not of much help in the immediate course of action. Bank managements also harass the staffs who committed the mistake erroneously without any malafide intention instead of helping them officially to recover the amount. Many bank clerks and officers had to face departmental proceedings leading to punishments, compensate the amount from their pockets to save their job and fearing severe action from the bank managements.
In the present case, the customer Mr.Rajkumar who is raising questions as to how the bank had deducted that (wrongly credited) amount from his account without his permission and knowledge is unethical. He did not feel it was wrong on his part in transferring Rs.21000, which was not his money, to his friend, which he smartly avoided in his interview.
Whether it is the case of Nirav Modi fraud of 9000 crores, in which case a clerk and an officer were suspended, or a mistaken transfer of 9000 crores which was recovered within 30 minutes, the scapegoats will be ordinary clerks and officers
This incident has brought to the fore certain stark reminders to both the bank managements and to the customers.
The bankers should put in place a fool proof software package and should deploy strictly the maker and checker concepts in all its transactions.
The customers should be vigilant in overseeing their account transactions and should immediately inform the bank management of any wrong credits or debits, so that the bank managements rectify such wrong doings.