ICICI Bank, one of India’s top three lenders, has emerged as the No.1 target of bank fraudsters last year in terms of the sheer number of such incidents, overtaking bigger rival State Bank of India.
ICICI Bank reported 374 medium and large sized incidents of fraud, beating back SBI, which came in with 338 such incidents and HDFC Bank, which reported 273 such crimes. (These are the number of incidents, and not the amounts involved.)
ICICI Bank is also the top target of bank fraudsters in the last three financial years, racking up 1,432 such incidents compared to 1,323 for SBI and 915 for HDFC Bank.
In fact, the list of top targets of bank fraudsters in the last three financial years is dominated by non-public sector companies, even though their actual losses are much lower.
In terms of the number of incidents, SBI was the only public sector bank out of the top 9 victims, which also included the likes of Kotak Mahindra Bank, at No.4, American Express Banking Corp at No.5, Axis Bank, Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered.
IDBI, the second biggest public sector bank target, was at No.10 with 284 incidents in the last three years.
The numbers are obtained from data reported by the banks to the Reserve Bank of India, and reflect only those incidents where the bank or financial institution lost more than Rs 1 lakh.
Among the best performers, based purely on the number of such incidents, are J&K Bank and The Dhanalakshmi Bank, each of which sustained only 12 incidents in three years; City Union Bank, which was hit 14 times; and IDFC Bank, which reported 14.
Karntaka Bank Ltd and DCB Bank (17 each), Punjab and Sind Bank (25) and Dena Bank (24) were also good performers.
NOT THE FULL PICTURE
It should be kept in mind that the above data reflects only the number of incidents, and not their gravity.
According to data for the year ended March 2018, the amount of money lost to fraudsters continue to rise sharply.
According to that data, nationalized banks lost a total of Rs 26,705 cr to frauds in the year ended March 2018, compared to Rs 2,374 cr lost by all private banks in India together.
SBI, which is not included in nationalized banks, lost another Rs 2,542 cr — more than the total amount lost by all the private banks put together (see chart below).
Even though comparable data for FY19 are not available, the previous years’ data would suggest that even though the number of incidents at public sector banks are lower, the damage inflicted is far higher than that seen at private banks.