ICICI Bank Manager accepts he conducted Rs 12 crore fraud by forging customer’s signature

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The branch manager of an ICICI Bank branch in Delhi has admitted to committing fraud by forging the signature of an NRI customer. The bank has filed a complaint urging the police to register an FIR in this case. The initial estimate of the fraud amount was Rs 2.68 crore, but further investigation suggests it could be close to Rs 12 crore.

Forgery and Embezzlement

The ICICI Bank branch manager, Varun Vashishta, created an overdraft facility of Rs 2.7 crore by forging the customer’s signature on the account opening form. A total of Rs 2.68 crore was siphoned off from the account. The fraud allegedly started in 2019 and came to light when the victim NRI customer complained about the embezzlement.

Complaint Filed by the Victim

The victim NRI customer filed a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) stating that 43 beneficiaries received unauthorized transfers from her NRE bank account. A total of Rs 2.5 crore was withdrawn from her account, and Rs 9.5 crore was transferred to the 43 beneficiaries. The complainant’s husband’s hotel’s current account was also held at the same branch of ICICI Bank.

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Fraudulent Fixed Deposit Receipts

The victim NRI customer revealed that the ICICI Bank manager of the Vikas Puri branch provided forged fixed deposit (FD) receipts. These receipts were handed over in person and emailed from the bank’s official email ID. The customer was unaware of the fraudulent nature of these receipts, as the bank manager used to visit their home for transactions.

ICICI Bank’s Response

ICICI Bank spokesperson stated that the bank consistently sent transaction details to the customer’s registered mobile number and email ID. The bank found it bewildering that the customer claimed to be unaware of these transactions and balances. The spokesperson also pointed out that interest earned on NRE deposits is exempt from income tax, so customers do not need to check NRE FD details at the time of filing tax returns.

Dismissal of Notifications

The victim NRI customer received notifications and email alerts about cash withdrawals from her account. However, the ICICI Bank branch manager dismissed these alerts as fraudulent phishing emails and advised her not to open them. The customer informed the branch manager about the alerts but was repeatedly told to disregard them.

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Allegations and Counter-Claims

The customer alleged that her mobile number and email ID were changed without her knowledge. ICICI Bank countered by stating that notifications regarding the changes were sent to her original contact information registered with the bank. They also mentioned that the new number was listed on a company website owned by the customer herself.

Bank Complaint and Cooperation

ICICI Bank has lodged a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and is fully cooperating with the investigation. The bank has offered to transfer the disputed amount of Rs 9.27 crore to the customer’s account with a lien pending the outcome of the investigation.

Conclusion

The case, initially investigated by the Vikas Puri Police Station, has been transferred to the EOW. The allegations and counter-claims have complicated the issue, and a thorough investigation is required to determine the truth. The EOW officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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