“Hello Mr. Murty …” phoned in Sadanandam, the General Manager of ABC bank. “We have reviewed the business of your Abids branch. After you took over, you are achieving excellent results. Business is growing. Congratulations”. Krishna Murty thanked Sadanandam. He is the Senior Manager of the ABC bank’s Abids branch.
Sadanandam continued: “Opposite your branch there is a big showroom ‘Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers’. It seems they have sixty such showrooms across the country. That company’s MD, Deepak Mishra, met me yesterday in the Lions Club. I requested him to open their account in our bank. He responded favourably. Go and meet him immediately…”
“Definitely, Sir…. I shall meet him right now,” replied Krishna Murty. The cell phone was cut.
General Manager Sadanandam is the supervisory head of all the ABC bank branches in the Telengana region. His administrative office is located in Secunderabad. One of the General Manager’s important duties is to review the business of all the branches under his purview and guide the Branch Managers.
Krishna Murty felt elated at the compliments showered by the boss. He recalled his wife’s daily grumble: “You think of only the bank, day and night. You are not bothered about the family.”
‘What an inseparable bond this – with the bank’, so thinking Krishna Murty came out of the branch, crossed the road and anxiously entered the showroom ‘Deepak Diamonds and Jewellery’.
Having come to know that Deepak Mishra is in the MD’s chambers on the second floor, he reached there by lift. Spacious office… central AC… it’s cool. Fifteen staff members are at work in front of their computers, observed Krishna Murty. He handed over his visiting card to the receptionist and sat in the visitors’ lounge. He was called in after fifteen minutes and soon he entered the MD’s chamber.
Sporting a rich, black suit and a radiant skin tone, Deepak Mishra received Krishna Murty cordially. Both shook hands. Krishna Murty sat in a sofa, looking at the diamond rings shining on the four fingers of Mishra.
After initial exchange of pleasantries, the Senior Manager explained the premium services provided by the ABC bank to their corporate clients and requested that their bank be used for the banking needs of ‘Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers’.
“I know about your bank, Mr.Murty…” said Mishra. “At present our accounts are with the XYZ bank. We are not too happy with their service. So we are thinking of changing over to your bank. Our turnover is in thousands of crores.”
At these words, Krishna Murty’s face glowed with joy.
The attendant brought cool drinks. Mishra took one and offered the other to Krishna Murty.
In between small talk, while mentioning that they had come from Bihar, now settled in Hyderabad…
“Central Minister Pankaj Mishra is related to us. Let me know if you have any work in Delhi. I can get it done within minutes,” offered Mishra.
“Oh, no. I have nothing. If you open your account in our bank soon, that would be a great favour for me.” Krishna Murty got up to leave.
“I’ll send our officer. Please send with him the forms for opening a Current Account. We will open the account in a couple of days. For the present I would deposit ten crores,” said Mishra, rather casually.
The words ‘ten crore deposit’ were music to Krishna Murty’s ears.
On the next day Mishra’s assistants came, finished all the formalities for opening a Current Account and deposited ten crores. Krishna Murty conveyed the good news to the General Manager. Sadanandam congratulated Krishna Murty. “This year’s Best Manager award may be yours,” complimented the General Manager.
*** *** ***
Ten days later, call from the General Manager…
“Mr. Murty … How is Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers’ account maintained,” enquired Sadanandam.
“Very well, Sir…They are always maintaining a balance of ten crores in their current account,” replied Krishna Murty spiritedly. Indeed, nothing like deposits, which are the best morale boosters for branch managers.
“It appears, the Central Minister Mr. Pankaj Mishra is a relative of Mr. Deepak Mishra. The Minister talked to our Chairman. The chairman phoned me…” Sadanandam went on. “It seems, Deepak Diamonds need a loan of a thousand crores for their business development. Cash Credit facility.”
“A thousand crores?…”exclaimed a shocked Krishna Murty.
“Of course…a thousand crores… Please meet Mr.Mishra to collect details and prepare the credit proposal. It seems, Deepak’s showrooms always contain a stock of diamonds and jewellery worth around three thousand crores. We can hypothecate that stock and arrange the credit. If you send the proposal from the branch recommending the credit, I shall forward it to the headquarters. The Chairman promised to take steps to grant the approvals,” explained the General Manager.
Saying ‘Sir, sir’, the ABC bank Manager wiped sweat from his forehead, sitting in his AC cabin.
“With this credit facility, your branch gets upgraded. An AGM will be posted. The Abids branch will shape up as Numero Uno in our entire Circle. Your promotion is assured,” concluded the General Manager.
“Thank you for your kindness, Sir,” said Krishna Murty, thrilled at the incredible prospect of a business windfall.
*** *** ***
Four days later, Krishna Murty met Deepak Mishra.
Deepak Mishra called in the Company’s Accounts Officer for the Company’s Balance Sheets, Profit & Loss Accounts and such other documents needed for the loan from the bank, and ordered him to submit them to Krishna Murty and cooperate.
That day, Krishna Murty remained fully at Mishra’s office to collect all necessary documents. He then prepared the credit proposal.
Krishna Murty further gave to the Accounts Officer a list of additional documents needed for the loan, such as Certificates from the Auditors and Board Resolutions.
“MD Sir is busy right now,” said the Company Officer while receiving the file. “He will sign on this file prepared by you and send it over.”
Another four days later, the Accounts Officer submitted the credit proposal file to Krishna Murty, complete with all the documents Krishna Murty wanted, along with the MD’s signatures.
Straight reached Krishna Murty their Circle Office, armed with the Credit Proposal. With the assistance of the Credit Department there in, he prepared the final report and submitted it to the General Manager, along with his recommendation.
*** *** ***
A week later….
Deepak Mishra reached Delhi by flight. Met Pankaj Mishra, the Central Minister. Suit cases changed hands.
Pankaj Mishra exchanged pleasantries with the Charman on cell. They struck a deal.
*** *** ***
Three weeks later….
Krishna Murty got the message that Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers Private Limited Company is sanctioned a thousand crores as working capital and that regular sanction is being sent in a week’s time.
*** *** ***
No sooner did Krishna Murty get the news than he rushed to Deepak Mishra’s office.
MD’s PA, Aruna Kumari, opened the door of MD’s chamber and showed him in with due courtesy.
“Well done, Mr. Murty … Your Chairman rang me just now. You have cooperated a lot,” said Mishra, offering him a seat. “We can’t forget your help. Thank you very much….”
“Experienced and efficient managers like you are an asset to your bank. Your Chairman too appreciated your sincerity very well,” congratulated Mishra.
The two have talked business matters for some time. Krishna Murty described how great is their bank and how talented are his staff.
Deepak Mishra talked of his ingenuity in boosting business.
Mishra told something over the intercom to his PA.
In another five minutes, Aruna kumari brought in a gift box and handed it over to Deepak Mishra. “ A small gift on behalf of our Company,’’ said Mishra, offering it to Krishna Murty. “Please accept without saying ‘no’…”
“Sorry, Sir…” said Krishna Murty, declining it politely. “I don’t accept any gifts from customers. I do not have any black mark in my career. My sole aim is to retire as an upright officer. Please don’t think otherwise.”
“Hats off to your honesty,” hailed Deepak Mishra. “Let’s meet after receiving a copy of the loan sanction,” said Krisna Murty and rose to leave.
As Krishna Murty left the office, Aruna Kumari felt a pity for the naïve bank manager who refused the jewellery box worth ten lakhs.
The same evening, one more gift box reached the house of Sadanandam, the General Manager.
*** *** ***
In another week’s time Krishna Murty received a copy of the loan sanction. He prepared a list of documents to be taken from Deepak Mishra, the MD of Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers Private Limited. Hypothecation Deed apart, he also readied the Personal Guarantee papers to be taken from the Directors and the documents on which MD’s signature is required. Then he phoned Mishra and
Invited him to the bank for putting his signature.
“Oh, I am very busy….I have to leave for Mumbai in an hour. I will not return for another week,” said Mishra. “I will send my PA. Please send the documents through her. I shall sign and return.”
That is not possible, said Krishna Murty. Coming to the bank is a must, he insisted.
“Is it so…” So saying, Mishra cut the cell.
Call from the General Manager within half an hour….
“Mr. Murty … It seems you insisted on Mishra coming to the bank to sign, didn’t you? He complained to our Chairman. The Chairman gave me left and right… How can we treat Deepak Mishra like any ordinary customer…He is the head of a company with thousands of crores’ turn- over…How can he be at your beck and call….We have to trust people, Mr. Murty … Our banking system thrives solely on trust… If we offend Mr. Mishra at this juncture, he can go to some other bank. Our business will be hit. The Chairman will not spare us. Our careers will go for a toss…. Try to understand….Please give the papers to Mishra’s PA and ask her to return them with his signatures,” lectured Sadanandam.
Krishna Murty could not disoblige his boss.
Aruna kumari reached the bank within fifteen minutes. Krishna Murty handed over the file to her after briefing her clearly at what places Mishra has to sign.
“All the Directors are the family members of Mishra Sir,” said Aruna Kumari. “By evening I shall obtain all the signatures and return all the documents, along with the stock statements mentioned by you.” Aruna Kumari rushed back.
Krishna Murty nodded his head with satisfaction after checking the documents brought back by Aruna Kumari in the evening.
The loan was released in the next week. The thousand crores were withdrawn through suppliers’ cheques.
Three months later, Krishna Murty was transferred to Visakhapatnam on promotion as Chief Manager. Abids branch was upgraded. An Assistant General Manager was posted. A new Chief Manager took over.
*** *** ***
After the total loan amount was withdrawn, no cash was ever credited into the account of Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers. The account operations came to a standstill.
The newly posted AGM met Deepak Mishra. He impressed on him that the account has to be operated on a daily basis. Otherwise, it may face the risk of getting converted as an NPA, he cautioned.
“The sales are dull at present. After three months, the month of Sravan and the festival season will start, and the sales will pick up,” assured Deepak Mishra. “I shall see that day to day sales are credited. Don’t worry.”
*** *** ***
Three more months had passed. The festival season had finished. Not a single rupee was deposited in the account of Mr. Mishra.
After another month…
Deepak Diamonds’ business slowed down, when news had spread that they are hoodwinking customers with coloured stones as diamonds and selling them at high prices. Stocks at the showrooms are disappearing. Deepak Mishra started shutting the showrooms one by one.
Another month later…
Deepak Mishra announced that, due to losses in the present business, Diamonds and Jewellery business is being closed down and that he is entering into the Petro Chemicals field at Mumbai.
With the depletion of securities and lack of repayments, ABC bank classified Deepak Mishra’s loan as NPA.
The ABC bank served legal notice to Deepak Mishra and other Directors for immediate repayment of the loan which, together with interest, amounted to twelve hundred crores.
Deepak Mishra fumed upon receiving the notice.
He countered that he never took any loan from the bank. He claimed that he never signed on the agreements mentioned by the bank and challenged that they can be got verified by sending the documents to the forensic laboratory. He said that he can also prove that the Directors never gave personal guarantees. For that matter, he never even saw the cheque book of ABC bank, he declared.
When the ABC bank manager had come to him and pleaded to open an account in their bank, he obliged by opening a current account with a deposit of ten crores. Beyond that, he never had any dealings with the ABC bank, he stated in his reply notice.
The case was handed over to the CBI.
*** *** ***
The CBI jumped into the fray and investigated the case in and out. They concluded that Deepak Mishra did not sign on the bank documents. It came to light that the suppliers who withdrew money through their cheques were all suitcase companies. When it became clear that it was not Deepak Mishra who signed on the cheques, CBI backtracked on filing a charge sheet on him.
It was proved that the General Manager as well as the Chairman sanctioned the loan in accordance with the rules. So no action could be taken against them.
Finally, Krishna Murty was the only convict left in the case.
“I always insist on the managers to follow the bank rules without fail. I wonder how Krishna Murty trusted Deepak Mishra so blindly….” declared General Manager Sadanandam.
The CBI came to the conclusion that Krishna Murty is solely responsible for the heavy loss of twelve hundred crores to the bank and arrested him. They filed a case in the court that he be awarded severe punishment.
*** *** ***
Another year later….
For want of any securities, the ABC bank’s Board decided that the loan of Deepak Diamonds and Jewellers is non-recoverable and resolved to write off the twelve hundred crore debt.
*** *** ***
Deepak Mishra immersed himself in launching his Petro Chemicals business in a big way. The Government allotted hundreds of acres of land at concessional rate. Deepak Mishra started negotiations with XYZ bank for a ten thousand crore loan.
Indraganti Narasimha Murthy’s work is translated on Indian Review from Telugu.
Read translation of Dr. Veluri Rama Rao on Indian Review.