The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on Thursday it has imposed a penalty of Rs 58.9 crore on ICICI Bank for non-compliance of its directions on direct sale of securities.
The bank clarified its position saying its held-to maturity (HTM) sales happened "due to a genuine misunderstanding on the timing of the applicability of RBI's direction in this matter."
An RBI statement said the penalty had been imposed in "exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of Section 47A(1)(c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account failure of the bank to adhere to the aforesaid directions/guidelines issued by the RBI."
The apex bank said the action was based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and was not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.
"RBI has imposed a penalty on the Bank for continued sale of government securities classified as HTM. ICICI Bank had continued with the sales from HTM category for a few weeks during the quarter ended March 31, 2017, due to a genuine misunderstanding on the timing of the applicability of RBI's direction in this matter," ICICI Bank said in a statement.
It further added: "As per RBI guidelines, the Bank had disclosed in its annual report for FY2017 that it had sold more than 5 per cent of investments categorised as HTM. However, the bank had not made the specified additional disclosure at that time. The Bank has subsequently been making the specified disclosure as directed by RBI in the audited financial results since the quarter ended June 30, 2017."
The RBI guidelines require banks to classify investments into three categories -- Held For Trading (HFT), Available For Sale (AFS) and Held to Maturity (HTM).
The securities acquired by the banks with the intention to hold them till maturity can be classified under HTM. If the value of sales of securities from HTM category exceeds 5 per cent of the HTM investments, banks are required to disclose in the audited annual financial statements, the market value of the HTM investments and indicate the excess of book value over market value.
The ICICI Bank also clarified: "During the current year, that is, FY2018, the bank has sold less than 5 per cent of securities from its HTM portfolio. The Bank would like to re-iterate that it continues to give utmost importance to regulatory compliance and endeavors to meet supervisory expectations."