Depositors protest outside Esplanade court

A crowd of Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank depositors and account holders gathered to protest outside Esplanade court on Wednesday. Three of the accused in the alleged ₹4,355-crore scam were produced before the magistrate’s court, which extended their police custody till October 14.

The economic offences wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police presented Housing Development Infrastructure Limited’s (HDIL) directors Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan, and PMC Bank’s former chairperson Waryam Singh before Esplanade court on Wednesday. The three are among the accused named in the first information report (FIR) registered last week in which the police have charged PMC Bank’s former management and HDIL’s promoters with cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

Outside the court, depositors and account holders gathered on Wednesday and demanded that the accused should not be granted bail. Some threw bottles of water at a defense lawyer’s vehicle and a few tried to vandalise it, but the police intervened. The slogans and placards held up by protestors showed anger against both PMC Bank and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

“The RBI had given grade-A ranking to the bank for five years. Why could they not see the fraud?” said Bhandup resident Vivek Sharma, 31, whose father had ₹10 lakh as fixed deposits in the bank. Hari Om Rai, 46, from Kurla said, “The bank officials were giving false reports and balance sheets to RBI for the last 11 years and showing just 2% per cent as non-performing assets (NPA). Why couldn’t RBI see [through] it?”

Vashi resident Rakesh Sharma, 61, said the fraud had robbed many of their life savings. “They and the RBI snatched away our right to live with independence and self-respect,” said Sharma.

In court, the investigating officer in the case said “new revelations” are being made in the probe for which the accused need to be kept in police custody. The defense counsels did not challenge the plea for extension of accused’s custody. Additional chief metropolitan magistrate SG Shaikh remanded the three accused in the EOW’s custody till October 14. Former managing director of PMC Bank, Joy Thomas, is already in EOW’s custody till October 17.

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