“The arrest of Mr Chaudhuri is extremely unfortunate. There have been several reactions in the public space of the banking community as well as previous chairmen. It appears that an opportunity was not given to him to be heard before the arrest. We have utmost faith in the country’s judicial system and are confident that he will be released unconditionally at the earliest,” Khara told reporters here on Wednesday.
Banking sources said that the complainant in the same case had filed a false FIR against the resolution professional (RP) who had been appointed to take charge at the defaulting company. This had resulted in a landmark judgment that said a case against the RP can be filed only with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI).
Khara denied that there were any irregularities in the sale of the loan by SBI. “As far as SBI is concerned, we adhere to the best practices in corporate governance and there has been no irregularities in the instant case and the prescribed rules and process were followed by the bank in dealing with this account.” Khara indicated that the decision on the sale of the NPA was unlikely to have been taken by Chaudhuri. “Issues of this magnitude are invariably dealt with at a local level and the top management of the bank, including the chairman, are not involved in decision making. We have got the structure in place and we are confident that people across the hierarchy can take decisions in such matters,” Khara said.
Banking sources said that the complainant in this case was politically connected. They said that it appeared to be a premeditated case as most of the higher courts are on vacation for Diwali.
Meanwhile, SBI sources said that the valuations mentioned in the order are irrelevant as the properties were not sold by the bank. They said that the bank had sanctioned a term loan of Rs 24 crore and a cash credit limit of Rs 1 crore was sanctioned in 2008 and the loan had to be restructured within a year itself. Despite restructuring, the loan turned into a non-performing asset in 2010. This prompted the bank to send a recall notice for Rs 34 crore in 2012 and a suit was filed in the debt recovery tribunal in 2013 for Rs 40 crore.
As the bank was not successful in attaching the property under the Securitisation Act, the loan was sold to Alchemist Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) for Rs 25 crore in 2014. The ARC too could not recover the loan and finally invoked the IBC.
The promoters had filed an FIR against the RP, who was arrested. It was in this case that the landmark order was passed requiring complaints against the RP to be filed only with the IBBI. Banking sources said that both NCLAT and the Supreme Court have passed strictures against the promoters.
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