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Income Tax department questions chairman
November, 17th 2009

Officials of the Mumbai income tax department on Monday questioned Union Bank of India chairman and managing director M V Nair about his bank accepting deposits of at least Rs991 crore. The deposits were allegedly made by an acquaintance for former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, who is facing charges of money laundering.

According to Reserve Bank of India guidelines, a bank must ask for specific details for deposits of at least Rs50,000.

Nair said the bank told the IT department that it had followed all KYC (Know Your Customer) and Anti-Money Laundering norms as per RBI directives.

Both the accounts (of Balaji Bullion) were registered as bullion accounts and transactions in bullion are primarily in large volumes of cash, Nair told reporters while leaving the offices of the IT department.

Manoj Punamia, an alleged frontman for 38-year-old Koda, had reportedly deposited the money in a Union Bank account in the name of Mumbai-based Balaji Bullion Bazar during 2008 and 2009 at its Zaveri Bazaar branch.

At least Rs500 crore was deposited in cash, a top bank official said on condition of anonymity, adding the lender generally did not inquire about the source of the cash used for purchase of gold from the bank.

The bank releases gold to the customer only after receiving cash or draft. If the customer is approaching the bank with cash, there is no reason why the bank should deny the transaction to the client, this official said. However, the bank did not have any connection with Koda nor was he a customer of the bank, the same official claimed.

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