Responding to senior Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave's accusation of SBI inaction even when the bank anticipated Vijay Mallya would flee the country, Chairman Rajnish Kumar told BusinessToday.In that decisions on clients, even high-value ones, are taken at a lower level and not everything comes to the Chairman. "I'm not going to give date chart to media about the action we have taken. We have not engaged him. I don't want to engage in a 'tu-tu-main-main' against Dushyant Dave or anybody. Ask Dushyant Dave where the engagement letter is. If he has, let him produce," Kumar said.
He further stated that SBI takes action with all alacrity and with very strong, proactive measures. "What action had been taken at that time is all subject matter of record of the bank. If somebody has slipped on any action, there is a process of accountability," the Chairman added.
Rajnish Kumar's response comes after Dave said that the SBI did not act upon legal advice it received to approach Supreme Court for an order restraining the liquor baron's overseas travel four days before Mallya left the country. According to a report in The Indian Express, Dave said he offered his advice after top management of SBI approached him after they anticipated Mallya's move.
Dave told the daily that SBI chairperson and people at the top within the government knew about this meeting and the advice given by him. However, there was no action taken on it.
Former SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said, "Mr Dave may say what he has to say. I am no longer with SBI and you may contact the present SBI management for responses." It remains unclear if Bhattacharya knew about this development. Rajnish Kumar said, "High value clients' cases don't necessarily come to the Chairman. Only Arundhati would know whether she was aware or not. I can only look at the record."
A spokesperson for the bank said, "State Bank of India denies that there has been any laxity on its part or its officials in dealing with loan default cases including Kingfisher Airlines. Bank has been taking proactive and strong measures to recover the defaulted amounts."
After missing out on preventing Vijay Mallya from leaving the country, an SBI-led consortium of banks finally filed a petition in the Supreme Court on March 5.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)