Tuesday, May 11

PMC Bank Crisis: I’m being made the fall guy; HDIL chiefs threatened to sink the bank, says Joy Thomas

On a day when two directors— Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan—of real estate company Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) were arrested in the PMC Bank fraud case, the bank’s suspended managing director, Joy Thomas, on Thursday feared being made a scapegoat.

He also claimed that the bank’s chairman, Waryam Singh, knew that it was heading for a collapse.

In an exclusive interview with Mirror, Thomas—who was suspended on September 26, three days after the RBI imposed punitive actions against the bank for regulatory lapses and for allegedly hiding bad loans— alleged that there was threat to his life from the Wadhawans.

He has written a five-page letter elaborating on the mess in the bank and plans to submit them to the police and the RBI. The letter claimed that the whistleblower, based on whose claims the RBI took action against the bank, was part of the team that handled HDIL’s accounts for two years and that he withdrew all his deposits on September 18, just days before the crisis exploded. Thomas said were a tragedy to befall him in the days to come, the letter is to be used as a piece of evidence.

Multiple reports have blamed HDIL’s total exposure of around Rs 6,500 crore (comprising a principal loan amount of Rs 2,500 crore and the interest accrued) for triggering the bank’s collapse, but there has not been any confirmation of it from the RBI.

Thomas claimed that when he called a press conference on September 27—in which he ruled out fraud in the bank, just days after his ‘confession letter’ to the RBI admitted to the contrary—he spotted Rakesh Wadhawan’s “henchmen loitering around” and couldn’t speak frankly because of that. He also alleged that in a phone call after the presser, Sarang Wadhawan mocked and threatened him with dire consequences.

He accused Rakesh Wadhawan of forcing bank officials to sanction fresh loans despite defaulting on past payments. “He threatened to disclose that our finances were in the red and shut the bank down if we didn’t listen to him.” Thomas added that before granting each fresh loan, however, adequate security was taken from HDIL.

He alleged that Rakesh Wadhawan and Waryam Singh have been friends since college and have been involved in several business transactions. He added that Singh refused to accompany him for submission of the confession letter to RBI officials on September 18, and also to take part in the press conference. Thomas clarified that although Singh never pressured officials into giving loans to HDIL, “he was aware of all that was happening in the bank”.

He asserted that none of the bank’s board members knew about the loans given to HDIL.

Referring to the claim he made in his confession letter that 21,049 fake accounts were listed separately for an audit and an RBI inspection to cover up the bank’s loan exposure of Rs 6,500 crore to HDIL, Thomas said he was not involved with the fudging of the record books. “The auditors and the RBI never went beyond the hard copies. Had they looked closely, they would have discovered the fraud.”

He recommended that HDIL’s assets be sold in phases to recover the loan and end depositors’ nightmare. Claiming to have no clue about the growing anger among depositors— he has been sequestered since the RBI’s punitive actions—he pushed for protecting their interests.

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