MUMBAI: Around 14 per cent of the bad loans in public sector banks (PSBs) are due to wilful defaulters. The total gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of 21 PSBs stood at Rs 7.33 lakh crore as on September 30, 2017. Of this, Rs 1.01 lakh crore of loans were termed as those in wilful default.
Wilful defaults have an element of malfeasance as it broadly means that the borrower has reneged on the agreement on usage of funds or has not paid despite having resources.
Recovery from such accounts are difficult because in many cases the money is siphoned off from the books of the defaulting company and most of them are being fought in courts. Some of the largest cases of wilful default are Kingfisher Airlines, Zoom Developers, Winsome Diamonds and Varun Industries.
Of the 9,025 cases of wilful defaults in PSU banks, lenders have filed cases against 8,423 for recovery of Rs 95,384 crore of NPAs. They have also filed 1,968 police complaints in cases of loan amounts totalling 31,807 crore. In 6,937 accounts, representing an outstanding of Rs 87,458 crore, banks have also initiated proceedings to attach and sell assets under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act.
Data released by the RBI in response to a Parliament query shows that Vijaya Bank has the highest share of wilful defaulters in its books. The Bengaluru-based banks had NPAs worth Rs 6,649 crore as on September 30, 2017. Of this loans amounting to Rs 3,537 crore were on account of wilful defaults. Punjab National Bank has the highest share of wilful defaults in its books among the larger banks. Of its bad loans worth Rs 57,630 crore, 25 per cent are on account of borrowers who have deliberately defaulted.
The implication for a business or promoter being declared a wilful defaulter is that they will never be able to get bank loans as long as they have the tag. For a lender, declaring a borrower as a wilful defaulter is a complicated process with senior bankers having to give a hearing to the borrower. In several cases, courts have ruled against the labelling of the borrower due to shortcomings in the process.
Among banks with small percentage of wilful defaulters among NPA accounts are Punjab & Sind Bank (4 per cent), Bank of Maharashtra (5 per cent) and Syndicate Bank (5.4 per cent).
As on September 30, 2017, leading corporate houses accounted for approximately 77 per cent of the total gross NPA from domestic operations for banks in India.