RBI asks bank auditors to have a stringent monitoring process
Pointing to the gaps in the auditors' work, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to adopt a more stringent auditing process to ensure that review of financial results and identification of fraud is done more promptly.
RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra said there is a greater need to take a closer look into the asset quality, instances of restructuring of advances, provisioning held, etc. to ensure that there was no divergence with regard to asset classifications and provisions held.
"The point I am trying to make is that if RBI inspectors are able to identify these divergences in the limited time-frame that they are on-site, why the banks' auditors are not able to do so…Is it a question of efficiency of the auditors or is there a much deeper issue - something to do with the transparency of the process itself?," he asked while addressing members of the Audit Committee of the Boards (ACB) of ICICI Bank subsidiaries & other bank employees.
With regards to provisions, he told banks that adequate provisions should be made for post-retirement benefits like pension, gratuity and leave encashment, etc. and the auditors should ask more pertinent questions to the banks with regards to provisioning requirements
"It is important that the ACB asks the right questions to the management about various underlying assumptions that go into computation of the required provisions such as life expectancy, discount rate, expected return on investments, etc. I urge the ACBs to ask uncomfortable questions," he said in his speech.
In light of instances of know-your-customer (KYC) norms violation Mundra has urged auditors to be stricter with the process of background check. Last month, RBI had imposed penalties on ICICI Bank and Bank of Baroda for flouting KYC and anti money laundering norms.
"I believe that the absence of an appropriate punitive mechanism in the banks for lapses has also contributed to their recurrence. Therefore, our expectations from the ACBs would be to closely focus on reasons for such regulatory penalties/sanctions and seek a root-cause analysis for preventing recurrence," he added.
RBI has also been cautioning consumers against the rising case of credit card and other frauds. Mundra called upon greater sensitivity and increased focus from auditors with regards to having appropriate measures in place to prevent instances of fraud.
"In our recently concluded scrutiny into fixed deposit related frauds in some banks, it emerged that even the caution advices issued by RBI in respect of certain individuals had not percolated down to the branch officials quickly enough to enable appropriate preventive measures… I would say that ACBs should take upon themselves to monitor the trend of frauds, assimilate key learnings and ensure that mitigation measures are put in place by the management," he added.