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PNB gets down to business : Impounds passports of 150 wilful defaulters, 37 FIRs lodged so far

State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB), the second-largest public sector lender said on Friday that based on its complaints passports of 150 wilful defaulters were impounded. Apart from this 37 FIRs against those who are not repaying loans has been lodged as part of its recovery drive. The bank has already declared 1,084 wilful defaulters and has published photos of 260 of them in newspapers.

The bank already encumbered in the Rs 13,000-crore scam involving jewellers Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and their companies, said that it is strengthening its recovery efforts with innovative recovery mechanisms and technology partnerships.

This is the first such revelation made by any bank in the country, following the government’s instructions to banks on seeking passport copies of all those who have borrowed more than Rs 50 crore.

State-run lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) is expected to recover around Rs 1,800 crore from a non-performing assets (NPAs) recovery mechanism – “Mission Gandhigiri” – which will soon complete one year of operation. Since the campaign rolled out in May 2017, has consistently delivered positive results with an average recovery of Rs 150 crore. “The mission was born out of the need to name and shame defaulters to increase societal pressure and urge them to pay back.

As a part of their aggressive stance, PNB claimed to leverage data analytics for loan recovery and risk management and said that it has tied up with a leading credit agency. ‘This partnership is part of the larger strategy to deploy technology to strengthen internal systems,’ it said while adding that PNB has been actively working towards improving internal systems by incorporating analytics and artificial intelligence for the reconciliation of accounts.

In addition, the bank has also set up special onetime settlement (OTS) schemes that have helped accelerate NPA recovery for the bank. From an average of recovering loan amount from around 80,000 NPA accounts in a year, this move has resulted in the recovery of 2.25 lakh NPA accounts over a span of 10 months. “These schemes apply to small NPA accounts helping defaulters come out of debt.”In February, PNB had created history of sorts by making public the list of 900 wilful defaulters, including Winsome Diamonds, Zoom Developers and Nafed, which owed 11,000 crore to the bank.

Till date, there are over 7,000 deliberate and wilful defaulters who owe 60,000 crore to banks.

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