British companies hoping to file a claim against the banks after being mis sold interest rate swaps are said to be running out of time to do so. The Financial Services Authority have estimated that around 90% of interest swap contracts over the last six years may well have been done so illegally. The FSA has attempted to establish a distinction between ‘sophisticated’ and ‘unsophisticated’ businesses, with the former being likely to have been aware of the risks that they were taking when they signed up for the products. It’s also been claimed by many sources that by introducing products that successful businesses were unlikely to sign up for, the banks were in effect targeting vulnerable businesses that were only ever likely to be harmed by the services.
It’s hoped that the full reviews will be completed within a six month period. Companies that did not sign up for the hedging products before 2007 are not permitted to take action due to the Limitation Act 1990, which demands that claims must be put forward within six years of the products being signed up for. Companies that suspect that they may be eligible for compensation have been urged to act at the earliest opportunity to ensure that their claims will be dealt with.
The interest rate swaps scandal is the second mis-selling scandal to hit the UK’s banks in recent years. It comes after scores of British customers were compensated after being tricked into signing up for Payment Protection Insurance – a scheme that was supposed to protect customers if they could not make credit repayments after falling ill for instance. Many customers found that they were signed up for products when they didn’t want, need or ask for them, often without their consent.
The UK arm of Barclays Bank has already set aside some £850m for compensating the victims of mis sold interest rate swaps. UK Solicitors like Lamport Bassitt have set up specialist departments within their firms to deal with swap mis-selling claims. The FSA have ordered a number of UK banks to review cases of interest rate swaps and to provide redress if the products were found to have been sold unfairly. With the interest rate swaps, customers were promised a ‘fixed rate’ of interest on loans by being compensated by the banks if interest rates went up, and paying extra to them if they went down.
However, when interest rates started to fall to historic lows, customers were hit hard, being forced to pay substantial amounts to the banks and finding that the costs involved in ending the contracts were also exceptionally high. Businesses were also alarmed to find that the ‘swaps’ and ‘loans’ were two different products. This meant that even when a loan was paid off, they were still obliged to continue funding the ‘swaps’.
The Banking Ombudsman Scheme enables an expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of complaints relating to certain services rendered by banks. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme is introduced under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 by RBI with effect from 1995.
2. Who is a Banking Ombudsman?
The Banking Ombudsman is a senior official appointed by the Reserve Bank of India to redress customer complaints against deficiency in certain banking services.
3. How many Banking Ombudsmen have been appointed and where are they located?
As on date, fifteen Banking Ombudsmen have been appointed with their offices located mostly in state capitals. The addresses and contact details of the Banking Ombudsman offices have been provided in the annex.
4. Which are the banks covered under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006?
The Banking Ombudsman can receive and consider any complaint relating to the following deficiency in banking services (including internet banking):
non-payment or inordinate delay in the payment or collection of cheques, drafts, bills etc.;
non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of small denomination notes tendered for any purpose, and for charging of commission in respect thereof;
non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of coins tendered and for charging of commission in respect thereof;
non-payment or delay in payment of inward remittances ;
failure to issue or delay in issue of drafts, pay orders or bankers’ cheques;
non-adherence to prescribed working hours ;
failure to provide or delay in providing a banking facility (other than loans and advances) promised in writing by a bank or its direct selling agents;
delays, non-credit of proceeds to parties accounts, non-payment of deposit or non-observance of the Reserve Bank directives, if any, applicable to rate of interest on deposits in any savings,current or other account maintained with a bank ;
complaints from Non-Resident Indians having accounts in India in relation to their remittances from abroad, deposits and other bank-related matters;
levying of charges without adequate prior notice to the customer;
non-adherence by the bank or its subsidiaries to the instructions of Reserve Bank on ATM/Debit card operations or credit card operations;
non-disbursement or delay in disbursement of pension (to the extent the grievance can be attributed to the action on the part of the bank concerned, but not with regard to its employees);
refusal to accept or delay in accepting payment towards taxes, as required by Reserve Bank/Government;
refusal to issue or delay in issuing, or failure to service or delay in servicing or redemption of Government securities;
forced closure of deposit accounts without due notice or without sufficient reason;
refusal to close or delay in closing the accounts;
non-adherence to the fair practices code as adopted by the bank or non-adherence to the provisions of the Code of Bank s Commitments to Customers issued by Banking Codes and Standards Board of India and as adopted by the bank ;
non-observance of Reserve Bank guidelines on engagement of recovery agents by banks; and
any other matter relating to the violation of the directives issued by the Reserve Bank in relation to banking or other services.
A customer can also lodge a complaint on the following grounds of deficiency in service with respect to loans and advances
non-observance of Reserve Bank Directives on interest rates;
delays in sanction, disbursement or non-observance of prescribed time schedule for disposal of loan applications;
non-acceptance of application for loans without furnishing valid reasons to the applicant; and
non-adherence to the provisions of the fair practices code for lenders as adopted by the bank or Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers, as the case may be;
non-observance of any other direction or instruction of the Reserve Bank as may be specified by the Reserve Bank for this purpose from time to time.
The Banking Ombudsman may also deal with such other matter as may be specified by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
6. When can one file a complaint?
One can file a complaint before the Banking Ombudsman if the reply is not received from the bank within a period of one month after the bank concerned has received one s representation, or the bank rejects the complaint, or if the complainant is not satisfied with the reply given by the bank.
7. When will one s complaint not be considered by the Ombudsman ?
One s complaint will not be considered if:
a. One has not approached his bank for redressal of his grievance first.
b. One has not made the complaint within one year from the date one has received the reply of the bank or if no reply is received if it is more than one year and one month from the date of representation to the bank.
c. The subject matter of the complaint is pending for disposal / has already been dealt with at any other forum like court of law, consumer court etc.
d. Frivolous or vexatious.
e. The institution complained against is not covered under the scheme.
f. The subject matter of the complaint is not within the ambit of the Banking Ombudsman.
g. If the complaint is for the same subject matter that was settled through the office of the Banking Ombudsman in any previous proceedings.
8. What is the procedure for filing the complaint before the Banking Ombudsman?
One can file a complaint with the Banking Ombudsman simply by writing on a plain paper. One can also file it online (at “click here to go to Banking Ombudsman scheme” or by sending an email to the Banking Ombudsman. There is a form along with details of the scheme in our website.However, it is not necessary to use this format.
9. Where can one lodge his/her complaint?
One may lodge his/ her complaint at the office of the Banking Ombudsman under whose jurisdiction, the bank branch complained against is situated.
For complaints relating to credit cards and other types of services with centralized operations, complaints may be filed before the Banking Ombudsman within whose territorial jurisdiction the billing address of the customer is located.
Address and area of operation of the banking ombudsmen are provided in the annex.
10.Can a complaint be filed by one s authorized representative?
Yes. The complainant can be filed by one s authorized representative (other than an advocate).
Or the Old fashioned LIC standard Endowment Polity.
Now read the agony of an elderly Man.
In the past couple of days 79-year old Mangelal Sharma goes to his bank (IndusInd Bank, Preet Vihar Branch, New Delhi) wearing a specially made T-shirt. It carries his photograph and says “BEWARE IndusInd Bank is a cheat. It has cheated me and may cheat you”. He says there was a lot of commotion when he first walked in and some said that they too had been cheated by the bank. On Saturday he wore the T-shirt and danced at the branch singing “Kya mil gaya sirkar toomhen meri FD (fixed deposit) toodake, mujhe mutual fund mein fansa ke, mujhe choona lagakey”. This parody of this song from the film Kissa Kursi Ka has Mr Sharma asking the bank what it achieved by entrapping him to invest in a mutual fund.
The story behind this protest will make you furious. It is about how banks have turned into banksters and send out armies of managers to entrap, con and lure trusting account holders to invest their saving in instruments that earn them a high return. ML Sharma, like the majority of senior citizens in India, has his money in fixed deposits. The risks are low and the interest income provides him with the income security someone at his age and in his circumstance requires. He is 79. His wife, at over 70 years, has recently undergone secondknee replacement surgery, after the first operation in October 2012 was unsuccessful. He is, in his own words, an “old man with an ailing wife” and even his two children have deserted him. Yet, his bank, IndusInd Bank, thought it fit to sell him a mutual fund product with a lock-in period of five years by persuading him to withdraw his fixed deposit of no less than Rs4 lakh and invest it in what they told him would simply be another low-risk banking product. This is no doubt a shocking example of how far banks will go to earn commissions. Mr Sharma approached the Banking Ombudsman for justice, but his case was rejected outright because Mr Sharma had signed the investment form. Apparently nothing else matter. This gives banks and their agents the license to lie and cheat any of us out of our savings so long as the signature on the form is ours.
Yet, this 79-year old hasn’t given up. In his reply to the banking ombudsman, after his case was dismissed, Mr Sharma has written, “I beg to knock on your door for justice again. Sir, I am totally unable and devoid of energy to take legal action in a court and count only on your sense of justice and mercy. Even a judge considers the relevant circumstances under which a person commits a murder to arrive at the correct judgment. Just the fact that I had signed the investment documents is insufficient. It must also be considered under what circumstances I had signed the form.”
It is very apparent what transpired. Mr Sharma says, “I never approached the bank for investment advice. Jyotirmay Sharma, the branch manager, came to my house, along with another officer, Mr Kesharwani. Yet, the bank still claims that they came to my house on my request. That they came to my residence to tender advice on my seeking is unthinkable. If I had sought any advice, the branch was the proper place, not my residence. They had gone on a hunting spree for a gullible person like me for earning profit for the bank.”
The complaint was of the bank, or its loan recovery agent, employing musclemen to take forcible repossession of the hypothecated vehicle and thus causing physical harassment and mental trauma to the complainant. The District Forum allowed the complaint and directed the bank to pay compensation of Rs. 4 lakh for repossessing the vehicle in this manner and reselling it to a third party. The State Commission confirmed the order in appeal. Dealing with the bank’s revision petition, the National Commission expressed shock that the bank had hired musclemen directly or through its recovery agents to recover the loan/repossess the vehicle. The Commission also referred to the State Commission’s order, which had observed that the alleged letter produced by the bank purporting to the complainant voluntarily handing over possession of the vehicle was unreliable and that no notice was given to the complainant at the stages of repossession and sale of vehicle. In dismissing the petition, the Commission relied upon its judgment in Citicorp Maruti Finance Limited v S. Vijayalaxmi [III (2007) CPJ 161 (NC)] where it had strongly deprecated such practices. The Commission dismissed the petition and awarded Rs.
25,000/- as exemplary costs in this case.