Banks needn't fear the 'three Cs' of investigation: FM Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a press conference in New Delhi after a meeting with CEOs of public sector banks and CBI Official on Saturday. (PHOTO-DALIP KUMAR)
Banks need not fear government investigators for “genuine, bonafide decisions", said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday, reiterating her government’s commitment that businesses will need not be harassed.

Sitharaman said bankers have no reason to fear the "three Cs", referring to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Vigilance Commission, and Comptroller and Auditor General—agencies often called to investigate finance crimes.

The CBI director met leaders of state-owned banks this morning to allay fears, said Sitharaman at a press conference, adding that she will meet with the Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Income Tax Department, and the Customs department to help banks in their concerns about their decision-making.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a speech on December 20, had asked companies to "invest boldly", saying they will not be harassed for business failures. "I want to assure no inappropriate action will be taken in case of genuine commercial decisions,” he said at a function organised by industry body Assocham.

Sitharaman said that the government’s reform measures have helped bring the banks back to shape.

"Extensive reforms carried out by the government have restored banks to health, with the gross NPAs of PSBs declining from Rs 8.96 trillion in March 2018 to Rs 7.27 trillion in September 2019, their provision coverage ratio rising to their highest level in seven years, and banks returning to profitability, with as many as 13 banks reporting profits in H1FY20," said a statement by the finance ministry.

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