Private banks accused of money laundering

New Delhi, March 14: The country's three largest private banks were today accused of indulging in money laundering both within and outside with an online portal claiming that a sting operation conducted by it has revealed a scam.

The portal Cobrapost played the contents of purported video recording of officials of HDFC, ICICI and Axis bank allegedly agreeing to receive unverified sums of cash and put them in their investment schemes and benami accounts in violation of anti-money laundering laws.

The footage taken in 'Operation Red Spider', purportedly shows a number of senior executives of the three banks verbally agreeing to take huge amounts of cash from the undercover reporter and putting them into a variety of long-term investment plans so that the black money ultimately is converted into white.

However, no account was opened nor any cash deposited in these banks. As news of the story created flutters, Fiance Minister P Chidambaram said two of the banks have denied the charges and added government would not jump to conclusions.

The three banks issued statements saying they will investigate the charges. However, all the three banks claimed they conduct their business in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements of the highest standards.

The CBDT also said that it has taken cognisance of the sting operation and has begun a probe into it. Addressing a press conference, Cobrapost Editor Aniruddha Bahal said that "Indian banks are behaving as Switzerland banks now. Our reporter gave calls to numerous branches of these banks spread across the country and they were ready to accept cash in clear violation of the Know Your Customer norms."


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