Pratibha bank waived loans for kin before RBI shut it down
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The cooperative bank in Jalgaon set up by the UPA-Left's Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, ostensibly to empower women, had its licence revoked in 2003 by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for alleged financial irregularities.
Confidential inspection reports of the RBI as well as correspondence exchanged between the Finance Ministry and the RBI, available with The Indian Express, reveal that the Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank, which Patil founded in 1973, faced several allegations.
Among the lengthy grounds listed by the RBI for cancellation of the license was the faulty loan policy of the bank and loan interest waivers given, among others, to Pratibha Patil's relatives.
According to complaints sent by the Bank's union leaders, as many as a dozen of Patil's relatives were granted loans (totalling Rs 2.2 crore including penalties, most declared Non Performing Account holders) by the cooperative bank.
The list of relatives who received loans from the cooperative bank meant for improving the plight of the people of Jalgaon, and women in particular, include her brothers and nephews.
Another list of relatives got a waiver of penal interest and charging interest (totalling Rs 41 lakh) and were allowed to close their accounts prior to the bank's liquidation.
When The Indian Express sought his comments, Dilipsingh Patil, Pratibha's elder brother, who pointed out that it was not possible for his son to take loans from a bank run for and controlled by women, admitted that he too had taken loans from the bank.
"The bank had 8,000 to 10,000 members, all of them women, who also took loans. In such a case, how is it possible to say that the bank went into losses just because Pratibhatai's family members took loans?" he said.
Pratibha Patil was the founding chairperson of the Bank and later, along with a number of her relatives, was one of its Directors. She is currently one of the 34 respondents in an ongoing case in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on the subject of mismanagement of the bank and misappropriation of funds by its Managing Directors.
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