State-owned Bank of India yesterday said it has closed down its operations of representative office in Yangoon (Myanmar) from mid-January.

“The Ministry of Planning and Finance, Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, Myanmar has allowed to terminate/close our Yangoon Representative Office (Myanmar) with effect from January 19, 2018,” the bank said in a regulatory filing.

Public sector banks (PSBs), as per the agenda approved in the Manthan programme in November last year, were asked to examine all their 216 overseas operations as part of clean and responsible banking initiative.

As many as 35 overseas branches of state-owned banks are said to have closed down since.

The closing down of overseas operations assumes significance in the present context in the backdrop of jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Gems misused the foreign office facility in the nearly Rs 13,000 crore fraud at PNB by presenting fake Letters of Undertakings (LOUs) to overseas banks.(One Crore: ten million)

Apart from Yangoon, Bank of India is also said to have closed down its office in Botswana. Besides, Bank of Baroda and Indian Overseas Bank have shut their Hong Kong branch.

As on January 31, 2018, public sector banks had about 165 overseas branches, besides subsidiaries, joint ventures and representative offices. State Bank of India has the largest number of overseas branches (52) followed by Bank of Baroda (50) and Bank of India (29).

The state-owned banks have largest number of branches in United Kingdom (32) followed by Hong Kong and UAE (13 each) and Singapore (12).

“PSBs to consolidate 35 overseas operations without affecting international presence of PSBs in these countries,” Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar had earlier said.

He also informed about identification of 69 operations for further examination as a move towards cost efficiencies and synergies in overseas markets.

Expressing government’s commitment to ‘clean and responsible banking’, Kumar had said that the overseas operations of the state-owned banks will be rationalised.

Kumar further said that: “All 216 PSB operations to be examined. Non-viable operations in overseas market to be closed for cost efficiency and synergy. Operations in some geography to be consolidated. Consolidate equity stake in joint ventures having multiple PSB partners”.-

Source: NAM News Network