Daily Archives: July 4, 2018

NiMo fraud effect: PNB revamps lending ops

NEW DELHI: Hit by the Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi fraud, Punjab National Bank (PNB) has decided to restructure its lending operations and has designated 60 systemically important branches to undertake lending of over Rs 50 crore. The move is meant to ensure better checks over large accounts, apart from offering better services to clients.
“The bank is in the process of shifting most of the large accounts to systemically important branches. Apart from these, most of the bigger accounts will be operated from branches designated as large corporate branches (LCBs), while regular branches will concentrate on regular savings accounts and CASA (current account & savings bank account deposits),” the country’s second-largest public sector lender said.

PNB has been engaged in a major revamp after a Rs 14,000-crore fraud came to light at the start of the year, involving diamond merchants Modi and Choksi. The changes form part of the recommendations by the bank’s independent thinktank named ‘Mission Parivartan’ that has pushed for centralisation of critical functions.

As part of Mission Parivartan, the bank will establish centralised loan processing centres across the country in a phased manner for processing of loans above Rs 50 lakh. This is similar to the practice that has been followed in several banks for the last few years.

Currently, the bank has one central loan processing centre at its Connaught Place branch in the capital that enables qualitative credit assessment, segregates pre- and post-sanction responsibility. Earlier in June, the bank created a stressed asset vertical for recovery of bad loans.

Homebuyers can name rep to decide stressed co’s fate

NEW DELHI: Homebuyers and depositors in companies facing insolvency action will get to nominate their representative from a panel of three insolvency professionals to represent them on the committee of creditors (CoC) — the decision-making body that decides the fate of stressed companies.
The move follows an amendment to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) in the wake of action against realtors such as Jaypee Infratech and Amrapali, with homebuyers now given a representation in the committee of creditors to have a say in deciding the fate of the stressed company. Earlier, the fear was that lenders who were the sole representatives will put together a deal that does not factor in the interests of other stakeholders.
The rules notified by the regulator Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) stipulate that every category of creditor — including depositor, security holder and homebuyer in case of a housing company — which has at least 10 entities or individuals will get to nominate its representative in CoC. “The insolvency professional, who is the choice of the highest number of creditors in the class, shall be appointed as the authorised representative of the creditors of the respective class,” it said in a statement.

IBBI has also given detailed norms for the resolution professional to decide the evaluation matrix, given that there have been accusations of favouritism in some of the cases that are currently being decided. “The request for resolution plans (RFRP) shall detail each step in the process, and the manner and purposes of interaction between the resolution professional and the prospective resolution applicant, along with corresponding timelines,” it said.

The resolution plan prepared by bidders will have to show how the reason for default is being addressed, whether it’s feasible and viable, provisions for its effective implementation and capability of the applicant to implement it, among other things.

As reported by TOI, the guidelines are seen to have come in the wake of the initial cases, especially the high-profile ones getting delayed, prompting the government to suggest that detailed norms should be issued, much like the Companies Act. It is also aimed at ensuring transparency in the process and protection to members of CoC. The rules have also provided a detailed timeline for each action to ensure that the whole process is completed within the 180-day deadline provided in the law.

E-hiring still needs reference checks

MUMBAI: Even as hiring has gone digital and companies are adopting new methods of assessing candidates, the good old tradition of reference checks continues to hold strong even today, with a majority of companies rejecting candidates whose reference checks did not meet expectations.

In a study of 200 HR managers/leaders by recruitment company Antal International, nearly 69% respondents said they would not hire a candidate whose reference check was not up to their expectations.

However, given the shortage of talent, the balance 31% said they would still go ahead and offer the job to the candidate under specific conditions such as lowering compensation than what was budgeted, or reducing the title that was previously negotiated with the candidate. Some said they would offer a lower scope of work than what was previously discussed.

E-hiring still needs reference checks

Antal International India managing director Joseph Devasia said, “In the age of AI and machine learning integrating with recruitment, this survey highlights the human element in the hiring process. In today’s world, with war for talent remaining unabated, our experiences suggest that employers still weigh the information obtained via reference checks to give themselves the extra validation they need before they make the hiring decision. It’s interesting to note that whereas sourcing and early screening process of recruitment are getting automated, the more critical stages of interview will continue to need human intervention. Bad hiring decisions cost companies a lot of money and it is to partially avoid such errors that reference checks can come in handy.”

Considering that hiring of mid to senior candidates is a tedious process — at times taking months to close — hiring a wrong candidate can cost companies an average of 30% of the first year’s potential earnings. Reference checks, said Antal, can help companies zero in on the right candidate. Up to 67% of respondents in the report, which was shared exclusively with TOI, said they rely on internal HR teams to conduct reference checks. A huge majority (93%) of respondents said they strongly support the practice of reference checks while hiring mid- and senior-level professionals. Of these, 58% said they would not roll out the offer without completing the reference check of a candidate.

Mahindra & Mahindra executive VP (group human capital & leadership development) Prince Augustin said, “Reference check is a valuable pre-hiring exercise that gives insights into background, fit and cultural dexterity of a person. These can be obtained through digital and one-on-one feedbacks, which together is a powerful input for making hiring decisions.”

पुरस्कार से सम्मानित की गई सेंट जेवियर्स गर्ल्स स्कूल की प्रधानाचार्या निधि मलिक

आज मेरठ मे आयोजित हेमवती नंदन बहुगुणा के जन्म शताब्दी वर्ष समारोह मे मुख्य अतिथि श्रीमती रीता बहुगुणा जोशी कैबिनेट मंत्री द्वारा शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में उल्लेखनीय योगदान हेतु सेंट जेवियर्स गर्ल्स स्कूल की प्रधानाचार्या निधि मलिक को ‘अवार्ड’ से सम्मानित किया गया ।
माननीया निधि मलिक के कुशल निर्देशन मे विद्यालय बेहतरी के लिए लगातार सक्रिय भूमिका निभा रहा है।

निदेशक श्री विशाल जैन ने हार्दिक शुभकामनाएँ प्रेषित की!

FM to meet heads of banks to discuss NPA resolution structure

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Piyush Goyal will meet heads of banks on Thursday to discuss an inter-lender structure suggested under the ‘Project Sashakat’ that intends to speed up resolution of stressed assets in the banking system.

The meeting is likely to formalise the inter-creditor agreement structure as suggested in the five-pronged ‘Project Sashakat’, sources said.

The meeting has been organised by Indian Banks Association (IBA) and inter creditor agreement would be the framework under which the consortium would take up NPA cases.

The framework will authorise the lead bank to implement a resolution plan in 180 days and the leader would then prepare a resolution plan including empanelling turnaround specialists and other industry experts for operation turnaround of the assets within RBI’s stipulated timeframe of 180 days.

As part of the framework independent screening committee of eminent personalities would be appointed by IBA to validate due process within maximum 30 days and the resolution would proceed if lenders holding 66 per cent of debt give their nod in line with the NCLT process.

Once the resolution plan is approved, the lead bank would be responsible to execute the plan.

While accepting Sunil Mehta Committee recommendation earlier this week, the finance minister had said banks would set up independent asset management companies (AMCs) and steering committees for faster resolution of bad loans.

A panel, headed by PNB non-executive chairman Sunil Mehta, recommended an asset management company/alternative investment fund (AIF)-led resolution approach under the five-pronged strategy to deal with NPA cases of more than Rs 500 crore.

There are about 200 accounts, each of which owes more than Rs 500 crore to banks. Their total exposure is about Rs 3.1 lakh crore.

Giving details, Goyal had said under this approach, independent asset management companies would be set up. AIF would raise funds from institutional investors.

The AMC, to be set up under AIF framework, will become a market maker and thereby ensuring healthy competition, fair price and cash recovery, the minister had said.

PNB to concentrate processing of big loans to 60 designated branches

NEW DELHI: Fraud-hit PNB has decided to designate 60 systematically important branches (SIB) to carry out all lending operations of above Rs 50 crore to ensure better checks and balances over large accounts.

The bank will create these SIBs across the country as part of its credit restructuring exercise.

“The bank is in the process of shifting most of the large accounts to SIBs,” Punjab National Bank (PNB) said in a release on Wednesday.

The lender suffered huge losses on account of over $2 billion fraud perpetrated by diamond jeweller Nirav Modi in connivance with a few bank officials.

“PNB has embarked upon a credit restructuring exercise that will ensure that large accounts as well as lending operations are concentrated in a few specially designated branches.

“To ensure better accountability and operations the bank is shifting most of the borrowal accounts above Rs 50 crore to branches which will be designated Systemically Important Branches (SIBs),” the bank statement said.

The public sector lender said creation of these 60 SIBs across the country will ensure better checks and balances over large accounts.

Besides, most of the bigger accounts will be operated from branches designated as Large Corporate Branches (LCBs) and regular branches will concentrate on regular savings accounts and CASA (current account savings account).

For centres located in metropolitan cities, in addition to LCBs/MCBs/IBBs, two to three branches will be designated as SIBs depending upon geographical convenience.

“Contrary to false reports, PNB has no plans to close operations in branches like the Brady House branch in Mumbai. Reallocation of some of the accounts is part of the restructuring process aimed at centralisation of critical functions and large corporate accounts. Retail operations for PNB customers continue to operate from the branches like Brady House,” a senior PNB official clarified with regard to a news published yesterday.

As part of its Mission Parivartan, the bank said it will establish centralised loan processing centres across the country in a phased manner for processing of loans above Rs 50 lakh.

Presently, the bank has one central loan processing centre at its Connaught Place (New Delhi) branch that enables qualitative credit assessment, segregates pre and post sanction responsibility as well as shortens the turn-around time and facilitates efficient monitoring.

Earlier in June, the bank created a stressed asset vertical for recovery of bad loans.

Belgium losing no sleep over Brazil: Kompany

Veteran Belgium defender Vincent Kompany said on Wednesday Brazil are the best team at the World Cup but his side are not losing any sleep at the prospect of playing them.

Another mystery illness rocks England after spy's poisoning

AMESBURY: Four months after a quiet corner of England was plunged into a Cold War-style saga of spies, chemical weapons and international tensions, residents wondered Wednesday whether it was happening all over again.

Counterterrorism detectives and local police were investigating after a couple in their 40s fell critically ill from exposure to an unknown substance a few miles from where a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in March.

Scientists were working to identify the substance amid speculation the victims could have been sickened by residue from the poison that nearly killed Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Wiltshire Police declared the case a “major incident” Wednesday, four days after the man and woman were found collapsed at a residential building in Amesbury, eight miles (13 kilometers) from Salisbury, where the Skripals were poisoned. A major incident designation allows British authorities to mobilize more than one emergency agency.

Residents felt a grim sense of deja vu.

“With the Russian attack happening not long ago, we just assumed the worst,” said student Chloe Edwards, who said police and fire engines descended on a quiet street of newly built homes in Amesbury on Saturday evening.

Edwards said she saw people in green suits — like those worn by forensics officers — and her family was told to stay indoors for several hours.

Police said officers were initially called Saturday morning about a collapsed woman, then were summoned back in the evening after a man fell ill at the same property. Police at first thought the couple, identified by friends as 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, 45, had taken a contaminated batch of heroin or crack.

“However, further testing is now ongoing to establish the substance which led to these patients becoming ill,” said Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills. “At this stage it is not yet clear if a crime has been committed.”

London’s Metropolitan Police said that “given the recent events in Salisbury,” counterterrorism officers were working with local police on the investigation.

British media reported that samples of the mystery substance had been sent to the Porton Down defense research laboratory for testing.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she was being kept updated on the case, “which understandably is being treated with the utmost seriousness.”

The emergency services’ response echoes that in the case of Sergei Skripal, 67. The former Russian intelligence officer was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap.

He had been living in Salisbury, a cathedral city 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London, when he was struck down along with his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, who was visiting him.

The Skripals’ illness initially baffled doctors after they were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury. Scientists at Porton Down concluded they had been poisoned with Novichok, a type of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

After spending weeks in critical condition, the Skripals were released from the hospital and taken to an undisclosed location for their protection. Doctors say they don’t know what the long-term prognosis is.

Britain accuses Russia of poisoning the Skripals, a claim Moscow strongly denies. The case sparked a diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.

The two Amesbury victims were at Salisbury District Hospital, which also treated the Skripals. Police said the victims are British citizens and live in the area.

Neighbors on Muggleton Road in Amesbury, where Rowley is believed to live, said they did not know the couple well and didn’t know what they did for a living. Most residents have only recently moved to the new houses and apartments.

Sam Hobson, a friend of the couple, said he was with them on Saturday, when Sturgess fell ill first. He told Sky News she was “having a fit, foam coming out of her mouth.” Rowley collapsed later the same day.

“He was sweating loads, dribbling. … He was rocking backwards and forwards,” Hobson said. “There was no response from him. He didn’t even know I was there.”

Police cordoned off a home in Amesbury, believed to be Rowley’s, and other places the pair visited, including a church, a pharmacy and a park in Salisbury, near where the Skripals were found.

Health officials said there is not believed to be any wider risk to the public, but they continue to watch the situation.

Salisbury and surrounding towns have only recently begun to recover from the frightening weeks at the center of an international spy drama.

Police from 40 departments in England and Wales returned home in June after months working on the Skripal case, and specially trained workers have spent months decontaminating sites around the city.

The British government has pledged 2.5 million pounds ($3.3 million) to local businesses to make up for lost revenue in the area, which is a gateway to Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle that is a huge tourist destination.

“Amesbury’s a lovely place — it’s very quiet, uneventful,” said resident Rosemary Northing. “So for this to happen, and the media response and the uncertainty, it’s unsettling.”

Justin Doughty, who lives across the street from the cordoned-off house, said residents want more information from the authorities.

“We don’t know, to be honest now, because is it linked to Salisbury or is it drug-related?” he said. “None of us is being told anything by the police, and it would be nice to know something.”

Wikipedia down in several countries in EU law protest

MADRID: Wikipedia went down in at least three countries Wednesday in a protest at an upcoming European Parliament vote on a highly disputed law that could make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users.

In Spain, Italy and Poland, an explanatory, protest statement about the upcoming vote came up when the online encyclopeead of the usual web page on whatever celebrity, legal case or historical event users had searched for.

“The directive would threaten online freedom and would impose new filters, barriers and restrictions to access the web,” Wikipedia Spain said in its statement.

“If the proposal was approved in its actual version, actions like sharing news on social networks or accessing news via a search engine would be more complicated on the Internet.”

It added that Wikipedia would be “at risk” and asked users to phone their MEPs.

The overhaul of European copyright law is divided into several sections, one of which is the reform criticised by Wikipedia and others who have warned it will lead to blanket censorship by tech giants.

Another reform would force online platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay for links to news content, which news agencies including AFP have hailed as a “major step”.

The European Commission has replied saying that “Wikipedia and other online encyclopaedias would not fall within the scope of the Commission’s Copyright proposal.”

But Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales and Greens MEP Julia Reda, a leading campaigner on the issue, insist that it will.

Thursday’s parliament vote is not final, but only sets out the negotiating position of MEPs.

There then follow negotiations with member states for a final position, during which the full extent of the law and whether it does apply to Wikipedia will be worked out.

Austria, which has just assumed the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, has said this will be difficult, so there will have to be some sort of compromise.

Poland's isolation deepens as Supreme Court law takes effect

WARSAW: Poland’s international isolation and political uncertainty at home deepened on Wednesday as a purge of the Supreme Court’s justices took effect, with the chief justice defiantly refusing to step down.

First President Malgorzata Gersdorf arrived for work as usual at the court in Warsaw, vowing to continue her constitutionally mandated term, which runs through 2020. The court’s judges support this view.

Thousands of anti-government protesters cheered Gersdorf on and vowed to defend the constitutional order and fight what they see as the erosion of their democratic system.

While she was allowed in to the modern glass Supreme Court building in Warsaw and oversaw a meeting with other judges, it was not clear how Gersdorf could continue in her role following a new law that lowers the mandatory retirement age to 65 from the previous 70.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, said in an interview published Wednesday by the Gazeta Polska daily that the judges’ “action” will result in their “shameful disaster.” An adviser to President Andrzej Duda also insisted that Gersdorf has no choice but to step down.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki faced a grilling in the European Parliament for what many European lawmakers see as Poland’s violations of democratic standards with a broader overhaul of the judiciary that gives the ruling party vast political control over courts and judges.

Manfred Weber, a German member of the conservative European People’s Party group, hailed Poland’s great democratic legacy, praising the 10 million Poles who joined Solidarity in the struggle against communism in the 1980s.

“Their great achievement — a sovereign, democratic Poland — is at stake today,” Weber said.

He also mentioned the ruling party’s transformation of state media into a propaganda tool and the prosecution of peaceful anti-government protesters even as authorities have failed to act against nationalists who had attacked the protests.

Udo Bullmann, head of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, praised Gersdorf for defending the Polish constitution, and criticized Morawiecki for dismantling “the last bastion of the judiciary in Poland.”

Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, said that putting judges under political control was reminiscent of Soviet practices and said Poland should abandon its “illiberal” illusions.

“I ask you personally, really, to turn the wheel and bring Poland back into the family of democratic nations,” Verhofstadt told Morawiecki.

Morawiecki defended the changes the populist Law and Justice party has brought to the justice system, insisting his government is working to make judges more accountable to the democratic will of the people and that Poland’s democracy “has never been as alive as it is today.”

Though calm, he did not take the criticism well.

“We are a proud nation and we know the price of freedom,” he said. “It is not good when proud nations are being lectured to by others, because that produces deadlocks.”

Speaking later to reporters he insisted the forced retirements were “perfectly in line with the constitution.”

In the debate that was to be dedicated to Europe’s future, Morawiecki also got support from some who backed Warsaw’s arguments that an overreaching EU was meddling in a sovereign state’s internal affairs.

The new law lowers the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 65 for the Supreme Court justices. That forces Gersdorf, who is 65, and as many as one-third of the court’s 73 sitting judges to step down, unless they obtain from the president a special permission to remain.

After having taken control of common courts and the constitutional court, Law and Justice now takes control of the top court, which handles appeals for all civil and criminal cases and authorizes election results.

Protesters expressed fears that the party will use its political sway over the court to falsify future elections.

“We have the right to live in a free country with a constitution,” said Monika Czerniakowska, 50. She said once a government violates the constitution, “anything can happen. Look what’s happening in Hungary. How far can we go?”

On Wednesday, 63 justices were working, meaning that 10 of the 27 covered by the new legislation have accepted their retirement under the new law, according to the court’s press office.

“I still hope that the legal order will be restored in Poland,” Gersdorf said as she arrived at the court.

The European Commission, which polices compliance with EU laws, opened an infringement procedure Monday against Poland over the Supreme Court law.

Government critics now are putting their hopes in the EU to preserve the rule of law in their homeland — a message that was reflected in the chants and slogans at the protest.

“This is not a democratic country governed by law anymore,” said Krzysztof Trzesniowski, a 57-year-old protester. Surrounded by thousands of people, he looked at his phone and saw that state television was reporting that there was no crowd of protesters.

“Orwell,” he said, referring to the dystopian novel “1984” by George Orwell.