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PMC Bank crisis claims 5th victim; RBI move likely

On Friday, 83-year old Murlidhar Dhara of Mulund in north-east Mumbai died after he was unable to withdraw money for a heart surgery.

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Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank

Mumbai, Oct 19 : The ongoing crisis over the Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank claimed its fifth victim in a week on Saturday amidst speculation that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to take some major decisions in the matter on Tuesday, a day after the Maharashtra Assembly election.

“It’s indeed very sad that a fifth person from Mulund, senior in age, has died this morning. However, the family has requested us not to share any details and we respect their sentiments,” banking expert Vishwan Utagi told IANS.

Advising the crisis-hit bank’s customers and institutional depositors on options to recover their monies, Utagi is preparing to file a public interest litigation against the PMC Bank shortly.

Braving a downpour this morning, over a 100 aggrieved depositors held their eight protest on Saturday, this time near the RBI headquarters in south Mumbai, amidst tight police security.

Besides, four other persons including two women collapsed due to stress during the protest and were rushed to nearby government hospitals for treatment, said a depositor.

“We have been reliably informed that the RBI will make a major statement in the media pertaining to the PMC Bank depositors’ plight. We are very hopeful it will be in our favour,” claimed a depositor, addressing an impromptu gathering of protesters.

He said if the RBI decision comes in favour of the depositors, they would treat it as a Diwali gift, dance with joy and celebrate with sweets, but warned that if it is against their interests, they would take out a massive protest march and even give up their lives.

On Friday, 83-year old Murlidhar Dhara of Mulund in north-east Mumbai died after he was unable to withdraw money for a heart surgery.

Before him, last Monday, a depositor Sanjay Gulati suffered a cardiac arrest and died at his home in Oshiwara, as all his monies were blocked in the PMC Bank and he could not withdraw cash for his physically challenged son’s treatment.

A day later on Tuesday, another depositor, Fattomal Punjabi, died of a cardiac arrest as his life’s savings were stuck in the bank.

On Wednesday, a lady doctor named Nivedita Bijlani allegedly committed suicide by consuming an overdose of sleeping pills and the PMC Bank crisis was blamed for triggering the circumstances leading to her taking the extreme step.

Presently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has permitted depositors to withdraw a maximum of Rs 40,000 from the PMC Bank on which it has imposed wide-ranging sanctions for six months starting September.

Since the scam broke out at the start of the festival season, PMC Bank depositors have been running from pillar to post carrying out a series of protests in the city, lodging police complaints and filing court cases against the bank management.

Depositors’ groups have demanded that the RBI should immediately lift the curbs on their deposits, or merge the PMC Bank with some other bigger bank to ensure the safety of their money lying inaccessible in various accounts.

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Sensex adds 135 pts in early trade, PSU banks gain

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Mumbai, Nov 18 The benchmark Sensex advanced by 135 points during the early trade on Monday led by PSU bank stocks.

It opened higher at 40,431.08,from its Friday’s close of 40,356.69. The Nifty also added 35.80 pts to trade at 11,931.25.

“Indian markets showed some initial gains aided by continued momentum in telecom stocks over reports of the government considering a floor on tariffs,” said Deepak Jasani of HDFC Securities.

SBI, beneficiary of telecom sector respite and Essar steel resolution, and BPCL surged after FM’s statement of targeting completion of its divestment by March, Jasani added.

Bharti Airtel advanced over 3 per cent to claim the top gainer’s spot followed by State Bank of India, by nearly 2 per cent.

Foreign Portfolio Investors sold Rs 1,008.37 crore worth of stocks on Friday while the Domestic Investors bought scrips worth Rs 537.74 crore.

Yes Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra, ONGC were the top losers during the early trade.

The US markets closed higher as investors remained positive on progress seen in US-China trade talks.

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Saudi Aramco flotation values oil giant at $1.7 trillion

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Riyadh, Nov 17 Saudi Arabia on Sunday placed a preliminary valuation on state oil company Aramco of between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion.

The company has published an updated prospectus for its initial public offering (IPO), seeking more than $25 billion for the sale of 1.5 per cent of its shares, the BBC reported.

That would make it the world’s biggest IPO, coming from the world’s most profitable company

It is short of the $2 trillion valuation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reportedly keen to achieve.

“The base offer size will be 1.5% of the company’s outstanding shares,” the state-owned energy giant said in a statement on Sunday, adding that it set the price range at 30-32 Saudi riyals per share ($8-$8.5).

Individual retail investors, as well as big institutions, will have a chance to buy shares.

Aramco was initially expected to sell some 5 per cent of its shares on two exchanges, with a first listing of 2 per cent on the Kingdom’s stock exchange or Tadawul bourse, and then another 3 per cent on an overseas exchange.

The firm added that there were now no current plans for an international sale.

The Crown Prince is seeking to sell the shares to raise billions of dollars to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil by investing in non-energy industries, the BBC said.

In its prospectus released last week, the company lists a variety of investment risks ranging from terrorist attacks to geopolitical tensions in a region dominated by Saudi-Iran rivalry.

The 600-page prospectus also includes the government’s control over oil output as another potential risk.

After the flotation, Aramco will not list any more shares for six months.

The sale of the company, first mooted four years ago, has been overshadowed by delays and criticism of corporate transparency at Saudi Arabia’s crown jewel.

Aramco last year posted $111 billion in net profit. In the first nine months of this year, its net profit dropped 18 per cent to $68 billion.

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India may soon have personal data protection law

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) India may soon have a law on personal data protection as the government plans to take up the bill during the upcoming winter session of Parliament starting Monday.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has already said that the government plans to soon introduce the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 in Parliament after public consultations.

The draft bill was released last year and was immediately opposed by several global technology companies. Their contention was that it would affect their business in the country apart from driving cost of operations. The proposals are mostly out of a report submitted by Justice B.N. Srikrishna in July 2018. The final draft of the bill is still not known.

But the draft bill which was made public last year for comments said businesses were required to seek explicit consent for the data they collect on consumers, mandatorily obtain consent from consumers to use their data sparingly and only for the purposes stated, apart from storing sensitive consumer data only within Indian borders. It did not mention what will be sensitive information in legal terms.

In recent times several cases of user privacy intrusion cases have come to light, including WhatsApp data-protection failure and privacy breach, creating a public outrage and debate over data security in the country.

The bill suggests a fine of up to Rs 15 crore or 4 per cent of the firm’s turnover in the case of a breach and setting up of a data protection authority.

Recently at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Conference in Colombo, Prasad said: “In India, we view privacy seriously and informational privacy is also integral to that. It means a person must have control over his data and its commercial usage.”

According to the minister, any data protection law should be technology agnostic, must be based upon the element of free consent, no abuse of consent beyond the permissible limits, requisite data protection authorities, and a fair mechanism for data processing.

In October WhatsApp confirmed that Indian human rights activists and journalists were among those targeted by an Israeli spyware and the government had asked the company to explain the breach that had targeted Indians amongst others.

Those targeted by the WhatsApp hacking in India included human rights activists who were arrested over their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon Dalit riots near Pune in January last year and some journalists. Of 1,400 affected users, over 20 are academics, lawyers, Dalit activists and journalists from India.


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