Shares of IndusInd Bank plunged on Monday, and were trading with a small gain on Tuesday. What led to the sell-off?
Shares of IndusInd Bank plunged by 10.71 per cent to Rs 1061.45 on Monday (November 8) on the BSE after the bank reported that nearly 84,000 loans were disbursed by its microfinance arm “without the customer consent” due to a “technical glitch” in May 2021. On Tuesday, the bank’s shares were quoting at Rs 1,070.70 with a small gain of 0.87 per cent on the BSE.
What led to the sell-off?
Whistle-blowers in the bank alerted the RBI and the bank about evergreening of loans at the bank’s microfinance arm Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd (BFIL). Evergreening is a popular practice in which banks grant new loans to an account to revive those loans on the verge of default. IndusInd Bank on Saturday reported that nearly 84,000 loans were disbursed by its microfinance arm without the customer consent due to a technical glitch in May 2021. This issue was highlighted by the field staff within two days and the technical glitch was rectified expeditiously, the bank says.
However, out of 84,000 loans, only 26,073 clients were active with the loan outstanding at Rs 34 crore, which is 0.12 per cent of the September-end portfolio, the bank said.
What’s the bank’s explanation?
The bank says all the loan products managed by BFIL (formerly SKS Microfinance) in the capacity of a Business Correspondent, are approved by IndusInd Bank and are fully compliant with extant regulatory guidelines, issued from time to time. The processes followed by BFIL pass through audit, inspection, and risk and compliance checks. The NPA recognition process is fully automated in accordance with the regulatory norms that are applicable to the bank, the bank said.
While some observers said BFIL might have issued the loans without customer consent to hide bad loans taken earlier by some customers, the bank strongly denied the allegations of “evergreening”. All the loans originated and managed by BFIL, including during the Covid period which saw the first and second waves ravaging the countryside, are fully compliant with the regulatory guidelines, it said.
What action has been taken?
The bank said an independent review has been initiated to see if there is any process lapse or accounting failure at BFIL. Should there be any need, the bank will immediately take corrective action as appropriate and keep all the stakeholders adequately informed, the bank said.
The bank, through BFIL, provides micro loans to women in rural India for income generating activities under the Joint Liability Group format. This customer segment represents the bottom of the pyramid in terms of economic wealth and is the target segment for financial inclusion, it said.
“The bank carries necessary provision against his portfolio. The standard operating procedure has since been revised to make biometric authorization compulsory,” it said.
Who are its customers?
According to the bank, 82 per cent of the BFIL serviced customers are in rural and deep rural India where the access to banking services is limited. This issue further got aggravated owing to operational issues arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic including lockdown, containment zones, and restrictions at the village/panchayat level, and necessitated disbursement of some loans in cash, it said. As most of the small borrowers in rural areas are not familiar with the banking practices, they were not aware about the loans issued without their consent and the governance issues at BFIL.
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