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Hong Kong’s Strict Laws Edging Out Lax Indian Public Sector Banks, Except SBI

A huge amount outstanding in bad loans which they will have to write off because they can never recover the money is seeing Indian public-sector banks (PSBs) winding up their operations in Hong Kong. The city state, unlike back home in India, has strict laws about bad loans in bank’s books. Many of these PSBs, perhaps, were pressured to open branches for political and not commercial reasons. These allowed businessmen to get easy loans, allegedly for a fee, and these borrowers then declared huge losses and, eventually, bankruptcy – obviously leaving the lenders in the lurch. Says a local banker: “Even today, there are too many Indian banks here and none making money!” While there is an uproar in Parliament if banks write off loans, HK laws say that bad loans must be written off if they are not collectible. “Bahut chor hain – and banks are bakras!” he adds. “It is good that finally, this government is closing down banks which are not profitable.” The Union Bank of India has already transferred its client accounts to its Singapore and Australian branches and is on the threshold of winding up in HK totally. There are three more in the process of winding up in HK. Eventually, State Bank of India will probably be the only PSB left there.