SBI: Confident that Chaudhuri will be released unconditionally: SBI chairman Dinesh Khara

SBI: Confident that Chaudhuri will be released unconditionally: SBI chairman Dinesh Khara

(SBI) chairman Dinesh Khara has spoken out in support of his predecessor Pratip Chaudhuri, in his first comments since Chaudhuri’s arrest on Monday.

Replying to a question by ET, Khara described the arrest as “unfortunate” and expressed confidence that his predecessor will be released unconditionally without any charges. Khara was speaking to media persons in a post results conference call.

“This arrest of Mr Pratip Chaudhuri is extremely unfortunate….I would say that it appears that the individual was not given an opportunity to be heard before issuing the arrest warrant. We have utmost faith in the country’s judicial system and are confident that Shri Chaudhuri will be released unconditionally,” Khara said.

Chaudhuri the SBI chairman between April 7 2011 and September 30 2013 was arrested from his Delhi residence by the Rajasthan police and taken to Jaisalmer on Monday.

The case refers to the ‘Garh Rajwada’ hotel project in Jaisalmer, financed by SBI in 2007. Since the project was not completed for three years and a key promoter passed away in April 2010, the account slipped into the non-performing asset (NPA) category in June 2010. Subsequently, the loan was sold to Alchemist Asset Reconstruction Co (ARC) in 2014 of which Chaudhuri became a director on superannuation from the bank.

Khara explained that as chairman Chaudhuri would not be involved in the recovery of such a small loan.

“Issues of this magnitude are invariably dealt at local level and the top management of the bank including chairman are not involved in such kind of decision making,” Khara said. He expressed confidence that the government will heed to a request by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to look into the matter.

“The banking community through the IBA has taken up the matter with government authorities and I hope this matter will be behind us very soon. As fsr as SBI is concerned we adhere to the best practices and corporate governance and I can assure you there has been no irregularity in the said case and perscribed rules and processes were followed by the bank in dealing with this account. We have got the structure in place and we are quiet confident that our people across the hierarchy can take decisions in such matter,” Khara said.

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