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Consultancy Firm Places Employees with Fake Certificates in HDFC Bank

One of India’s largest private banks, HDFC Bank, has filed a police complaint against a Gurgaon-based consultancy firm that allegedly used forged documents to place 68 candidates in various positions, from assistant manager to branch manager, with the bank over two years.

The racket was exposed during a reference check of an employee, Geetanjali Bagga, by the bank in February. According to the bank’s police complaint, Bagga joined HDFC Bank as an assistant manager in October 2017. During the reference check in February 2018, it came to light that she had been supported by Adeco Consultancy during the recruitment process and had submitted forged salary slips, experience certificates and other documents. Bagga, during an internal investigation, revealed she had paid around Rs 60,000 to Amit Choudhary, who runs the agency.

The bank subsequently opened an investigation into other candidates who had been placed through Adeco and found 68 employees had submitted forged documents in the past couple of years while joining HDFC Bank. Out of the 68, around 51 were employees of the bank when the investigation was being conducted. One of them revealed the agency was run by Amit and his friend Satyendra Pal. Other than Adeco, some documents also used the names Lotus Consultancy and Aspire Consultancy.

Satyendra, who was the manager of HDFC Bank’s Noida Sector 135 branch, told the bank, according to the police complaint, that he had himself paid Rs 1.45 lakh to Adeco for his selection. After joining the bank, he used to train candidates for interviews with the bank and helped them in clearing online tests.

The bank approached police in September. After completing a preliminary investigation, an FIR was filed on Sunday at Sector 53 police station against Amit Choudhary alias Rohit Kumar, his wife and HDFC Bank employees Komal Kushwaha and Vishal Pandey. They were booked under sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged document) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

“It is an obvious case of fraud. HDFC Bank has no tie-up with the said consultancy, and we are deeply concerned over such fraudulent activities involving our brand name to cheat the general public,” said Bharti Soni, HR department vice-president, HDFC Bank, adding that the conduct of the employees involved were against norms and guidelines of the bank.

In its complaint to police, HDFC Bank said candidates were made to submit a mobile phone with two SIM cards to Adeco and told to give these numbers as references in their CVs to clear the phone verification conducted by the bank’s HR department. The agency also allegedly bought around 360 domain names to create fake email addresses resembling those of banks and other financial institutions that could be submitted for reference checks.

The bank told police Adeco made it appear as if HDFC Bank had launched recruitment drives through them. The agency, in connivance with some other HDFC Bank employees, contacted candidates when they came to know about openings, provided them training for interviews, and helped them clear the online tests conducted by the bank. In exchange, candidates paid amounts ranging from Rs 25,000 to over Rs 1.5 lakh depending on the grade and salary package they got.

Assistant sub-inspector Ashwani Kumar, the investigating officer, said they have registered a case and further investigation is on. “We are trying to track down the accused,” he said.