RBI issues draft framework to strengthen liquidity of NBFCs

Abhirup Ghosh

abhirup@vinodkothari.com

Financial year 2019 has been a year to remember, as the NBFC sector, which caters to a significant portion of the financial needs in the economy, almost choked due to lack of liquidity. While there was an undercurrent already, but the fall of the mammoth ILFS group, ignited the crisis. Resultantly, the banks stopped taking fresh exposures on the NBFCs, the mutual funds pulled out plug, and other investors also became wary of the financial services sector. Businesses of all almost of all the NBFCs came to a standstill.

Considering the sensitivity of the situation, the RBI had to step in and take initiatives to address the concerns. Relaxations with respect to minimum holding period, for direct assignments and securitisation transactions, was one of them. This measure was however, temporary in nature.

In order to address the issues that pop up in the longer run, the RBI has framed a draft framework, which is now open for comments, to deal with liquidity risk. The draft framework was placed on the RBI’s website on 24th May, 2019[1] and is open for comments till 14th June, 2019.

The framework is divided into two parts – a) liquidity risk management framework; and b) liquidity coverage ratio. While the first part is a mix of new and existing provisions of asset liability management; the latter is a new requirement altogether.

In this write-up we intend to discuss about this framework.

Applicability

The first part of the framework, that is the liquidity risk management framework, shall be applicable to the following classes of NBFCs:

  1. Non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of ₹ 1 billion or above (₹ 100 crores or above);
  2. Systemically important core investment companies (CICs with asset size of more than ₹ 100 crores and having public funds)
  3. Deposit taking NBFCs

The second part of the framework, which introduces the concept of liquidity coverage ratio among NBFCs shall be applicable to the following classes of NBFCs:

  1. Non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of ₹ 50 billion or above (₹ 5000 crores or above);
  2. Deposit taking NBFCs

Liquidity risk management framework

The liquidity risk management framework is divided into the following parts –

a. Liquidity risk management policy, strategies and practices:

This requires formulation of risk management framework, which should be much more comprehensive than the existing one, and should address the following:

  1. Governance related issues –
  • The Board of Directors of the NBFC must retain the overall responsibility of liquidity risk management and the same shall also be responsible of laying down policies, strategies and practices to be followed by the company.
  • The Risk Management Committee shall report to the Board of Directors of the Company. The Committee must be constituted with CEO/ MD and the heads of the various risk verticals of the company. The existing Corporate Governance framework requires formation of RMC, however, the same does not specify desired constitution of the Committee. In fact, companies which have Chief Risk Officer, should also appoint CROs as a part of the RMC[2].
  • Asset Liability Management Committee – There is a slight change in the composition proposed under this framework against the existing provisions relating to formation of ALCO. As per the existing regulations, the ALCO must consist of senior management including CEO. However, this framework states that the committee must be headed by CEO/ MD or Executive Director and may have the Chiefs of Investment, Credit, Resource Management or Planning, Funds Management / Treasury (forex and domestic), International Banking and Economic Research as members. Also, the scope of ALCO has also been modified to include – taking decisions on desired maturity profile and mix of incremental assets and liabilities, sale of assets as a source of funding, the structure, responsibilities and controls for managing liquidity risk, and overseeing the liquidity positions of all branches.
  • Asset Liability Management Support Group – Formation of this group is a new requirement. The group should be consisted of operating staff of the organisation and shall be responsible for analysing, monitoring and reporting the liquidity risk profile to the ALCO.2. Off balance sheet exposures and contingent liabilities must be given desired level of attention so that risks arising from all off-balance sheet exposures, be it securitisation, financial derivatives, guarantees or other commitments. The focus should be on assessment of inherent risks that can cause problems at times of stress.

    3. Diversification of funding sources must be achieved by the NBFCs. This is a qualitative requirement where RBI has urged the NBFCs to establish strong connection with each of its funding sources and to keep itself active in the funding market. Over reliance on a particular source has been condemned.

    4. The NBFCs must have a proper collateral management system where it should be in a position to distinguish between encumbered and unencumbered assets.

    5.Stress testing must be inculcated as an important exercise in the overall governance and risk management culture in the NBFC. Stress testing must be conducted on a regular basis for a variety of short term, entity specific and market specific situations. The various activities of the business and their vulnerabilities must be taken into consideration so that the stress testing scenarios can cover every aspect of market risk and major funding risks that the NBFC is exposed to.

    6. A contingency funding plan must be formulated which can be followed while responding to severe disruptions in the funding abilities of the NBFCs. It should contain the available r potential contingency funding sources and the estimated amount which can be drawn from these sources, clear escalation or prioritisation procedures detailing when and how each of the actions can and should be activated, and the lead time needed to tap funds from each of these sources.

    7. Intra group transactions and exposures must be under special supervision and the Group CFO should develop and maintain liquidity management process and funding programs that are consistent with the activities of the group.

    8. Other issues like liquidity risk tolerance, liquidity costs, internal pricing must be properly framed by the senior management.

    9. Public disclosure on liquidity risk, the NBFC is exposed has to be made on regular basis. The disclosure should include –

    • Funding concentration based on significant counterparty,
    • Top 20 large deposits,
    • Top 10 borrowings,
    • Funding concentration based on significant products/ instruments,
    • Stock ratios with respect to commercials, NCDs and other short term liabilities each as a percentage of total assets, total liabilities and total public funds
    • State of the institutional setup for liquidity risk management

b. The Management Information System (MIS) should be structured in a manner that is capable of generating information both in normal and stress scenarios.

c. Internal controls of the NBFCs must be strong enough which can ensure adherence to policies and procedures with respect to liquidity risk management. The internal controls must be independently reviewed on a regular basis.

d. The assets and liabilities must be monitored based on the time buckets they fall in. As against the existing framework, the framework requires micro monitoring, that is, the time brackets have been broken further. The proposed time brackets as well as the current set of time brackets have been provided below:

 

Time brackets as provided in the existing guidelines Time brackets proposed in the framework
1 day to 30/ 31 days  1 day to 7 days
Over one month and upto 2 months  8 day to 14 days
Over two months and upto 3 months 15 days to 30/31 days (One month)
Over 3 months and upto 6 months  Over one month and upto 2 months
Over 6 months and upto 1 year  Over two months and upto 3 months
Over 1 year and upto 3 years  Over 3 months and upto 6 months
Over 3 years and upto 5 years  Over 1 year and upto 3 years
Over 5 years  Over 3 years and upto 5 years
 Over 6 months and upto 1 year
 Over 1 year and upto 3 years
Over 3 years and upto 5 years
Over 5 years

 

The maximum mismatches allowed in the 1-7 days, 8-14 days and 15-30/31 days bracket are 10%, 10% and 20% of the cumulative cash flows in the respective time brackets.

 

The investments in securities must be classified into “mandatory” and “non-mandatory” categories. Mandatory category is that where the securities acquired under legal obligation must be classified and anything apart from these must be classified under non-mandatory category.

 e. Stock approach must be adopted in the NBFCs’ liquidity risk management. Certain critical ratios must be monitored in this regard by putting in place internally defined limits as approved by their Board. The ratios and the internal limits shall be based on an NBFC’s liquidity risk management capabilities, experience and profile.
f. Liquidity risks arising out of other risks like currency risk and interest rate risk must also be managed.
g. Monitory tools like statement of structural liquidity and others, prescribed by the RBI should be used.

Liquidity coverage ratio

The concept of liquidity coverage ratio adopted here is similar to this concept under Basel III: International framework for liquidity risk measurement, standards and monitoring[3]. This requires NBFCs with specified asset size, to maintain specified level of LCR. The framework currently proposes following levels of LCR:

From 01.04.2020 01.04.2021 01.04.2022 01.04.2023 01.04.2024
Minimum LCR 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
 

The formula of LCR has been defined in the framework to mean:

Stock of High Quality Liquid Assets(HQLAs) / Total Net Cash Outflows over the next 30 calendar years

In simple terms, LCR represents the readily available cashflows/ cash equivalents as a proportion of the total net cash outflows over the next 30 calendar days. Ideally, the LCR should be more than 100%. The manner of computation of each of these have been elaborately discussed in the framework.

While calculating the stock of HQLA, certain items like cash, government securities and certain specified marketable securities without any haircut. However, other assets, including corporate bonds, equity shares etc. are to be considered after considering haircuts ranging from 15% – 50%.

In the denominator, the net of cash outflows are to be considered, that is total cash outflows minus the specified cash inflows.

As per the RBI framework, “Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) which will promote resilience of NBFCs to potential liquidity disruptions by ensuring that they have sufficient High Quality Liquid Asset (HQLA) to survive any acute liquidity stress scenario lasting for 30 days”.

Conclusion

This framework was a much awaited piece of legislation and the industry felt the dire need of such a guided document on the liquidity risk management. With the growing importance of this industry and amount of exposure they have on the economy, a strong liquidity management is the need of the hour. The nation certainly doesn’t want another ILFS or a similar crisis to happen.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/bs_viewcontent.aspx?Id=3678

[2] The RBI on 16th May, 209 required mandatory appointment of CRO by NBFCs having assets of ₹ 50 billion or above.

[3] https://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs188.pdf


NBFCs in troubled waters as Madras Court Bench rules in favour of RBI

The latest judgement by the Madras HC as on 22nd April, 2019 has set aside an earlier single judge order in January this year, and ruled in favour of RBI. RBI argued that there was an appeal remedy available and the companies instead of filing writ petitions with the court could have approached the appellate authority.

However before citing the details of the present judgement, this writer believes a firm background is required to grasp the gravity of the present situation. The reader may feel free to scroll further down, if acquainted with the January single-judge decision beforehand.

Background

Since the Sarada scam in 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had been on high alert and had been subsequently tightening regulations for NBFCs, micro-finance firms and such other companies which provide informal banking services. As of December 2015, over 56 NBFC licenses were cancelled[1]. However, recently in light of the uncertain credit environment (recall DHFL and IF&LS) among other reasons, RBI has cancelled around 400 licenses [2]in 2018 primarily due to a shortfall in Net Owned Funds (NOF)[3] among other reasons. The joint entry of the Central Govt. regulators and RBI to calm the volatility in the markets on September 21st, 2018 after an intra-day fall of over 1000 points amid default concerns of DHFL, warranted concern. Had it been two isolated incidents the regulators and Union government would have been unlikely to step in. The RBI & SEBI issued a joint statement on September saying they were prepared to step in if market volatility demanded such a situation. This suggests a situation which is more than what meets the eye.

Coming back to NBFCs, over half of the cancelled NBFC licenses in 2018 could be attributed to shortfall in NOFs. NOF is described in Section 45 IA of the RBI Act, 1934. It defines NOF as:

1) “Net owned fund” means–
(a) The aggregate of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves as disclosed in the latest
Balance sheet of the company after deducting therefrom–
(i) Accumulated balance of loss;
(ii) Deferred revenue expenditure; and

(iii) Other intangible assets; and
(b) Further reduced by the amounts representing–
(1) Investments of such company in shares of–
(i) Its subsidiaries;
(ii) Companies in the same group;
(iii) All other non-banking financial companies; and
(2) The book value of debentures, bonds, outstanding loans and advances
(including hire-purchase and lease finance) made to, and deposits with,–
(i) Subsidiaries of such company; and
(ii) Companies in the same group, to the extent such amount exceeds ten per cent of (a) above.

At present, the threshold amount that has to be maintained is stipulated at 2 crore, from the previous minimum of 25 lakhs. Previously, to meet this requirement of Rs. 25 lakh a time period of three years was given. During this tenure, NBFCs were allowed to carry on business irrespective of them not meeting business conditions. Moreover, this period could be extended by a further 3 years, which should not exceed 6 years in aggregate. However, this can only be done after stating the reason in writing and this extension is in complete discretion of the RBI. The failure to maintain this threshold amount within the stipulated time had led to this spurge of license cancellations in 2018.

However, the Madras High Court judgement dated 29-1-2019 came as a big relief to over 2000 NBFCs whose license had been cancelled due a delay in fulfilling the shortfall.

 

THE JUDGEMENT

The regulations

On 27-3-2015 the RBI by notification No. DNBR.007/CGM(CDS)-2015 specified two hundred lakhs rupees as the NOF required for an NBFC to commence or carry on the business. It further stated that an NBFC holding a CoR and having less than two hundred lakh rupees may continue to carry on the business, if such a company achieves the NOF of one hundred lakh rupees before 1-04-2016 and two hundred lakhs of rupees before 1-04-2017.

The Petitioner’s claim

The petition was filed by 4 NBFCs namely Nahar Finance & Leasing Ltd., Lodha Finance India Ltd., Valluvar Development Finance Pvt. Ltd. and Senthil Finance Pvt. Ltd. for the cancellation of Certificate of Registration (CoR) against the RBI. The petitioners claim that they had been complying with all the statutory regulations and regularly filing various returns and furnishing the required information to the Registrar of Companies. These petitions were in response to the RBI issued Show Cause Notices to the petitioners proposing to cancel the CoR and initiate penal action. The said SCNs were responded to by the petitioners contending that they had NOF of Rs.104.50 lakhs, Rs.34.19 lakhs, Rs.79.50 lakhs and Rs.135 lakhs respectively, as on 31.03.2017.

Valluvar Development Finance also sent a reply stating that they had achieved the required NOF on 23-10-2017, attaching a certificate from the Statutory Auditor to support its claim. The other petitioners however submitted that due to significant change in the economy including the policies of the Govt. of India during the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 like de-monetization and implementation of Goods & Services Tax, the entire working of the finance sector was impaired and as such sought extension of time till 31-03-2019 to comply with the requirements.

Now despite seeking extension of time, having given explanations to the SCNs, the CoRs were cancelled without an opportunity for the NBFCs to be heard.

 

The Decision

It was argued that there is a remedy provided against the cancellation of the CoRs, the petitioners had chosen to invoke Article 226 contending violation of the principles of justice. The proviso to Section 45-IA(6) relates to the contentions in regards to cancellation of the CoRs.

“45-IA. Requirement of registration and net owned fund –

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a non-banking financial company in existence on the commencement of the Reserve Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 1997 and having a net owned fund of less than twenty five lakh rupees may, for the purpose of enabling such company to fulfil the requirement of the net owned fund, continue to carry on the business of a nonbanking financial institution–

(i) for a period of three years from such commencement; or

(ii) for such further period as the Bank may, after recording the reasons in writing for so doing, extend,

subject to the condition that such company shall, within three months of fulfilling the requirement of the net owned fund, inform the Bank about such fulfilment:

Provided further that before making any order of cancellation of certificate of registration, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

(7) A company aggrieved by the order of rejection of application for registration or cancellation of certificate of registration may prefer an appeal, within a period of thirty days from the date on which such order of rejection or cancellation is communicated to it, to the Central Government and the decision of the Central Government where an appeal has been preferred to it, or of the Bank where no appeal has been preferred, shall be final:

Provided that before making any order of rejection of appeal, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

The decision was taken on two grounds. First, the statute specifically provides for an opportunity of personal hearing besides calling for an explanation. The amended provision is very particular that opportunity of being personally heard is mandatory, as the very amendment relates to finance companies, which are already carrying on business also. Not affording this opportunity would cripple the business of the petitioners.

Second, the amended section provides NBFCs sufficient time to enhance their NOF by carrying on business and comply with the notifications. For the aforesaid reasons, the orders by the RBI requires interference. Resultantly, the respondents (RBI authorities) are directed to restore the CoR of the petitioners and also extend the time given to the petitioners.

 

The Latest Judgement

The judgement pronounced as on 22nd April, 2019 was an appeal by the RBI to the aforementioned writ petitions. This latest decision which ruled in favour of the RBI had contentions on several grounds. However, all of them stem (invocation of sub-clauses) from the following four.

First, the RBI against the order in the writ petitions submitted that there is an appeal remedy available and the petitioners without availing such remedy have filed the petitions and as such petitions ought not to have been entertained.

Second that there were only four such companies (the ones above) who sought writ petitions and the remaining numbering more than 40 Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) have filed statutory appeals and therefore, the petitioners should be relegated to avail the appeal remedy.

Third, the present cancellation is owed to the petitioners’ failure to comply with the NOF conditions issued by the RBI. The notification dated 27.03.2015 specifying 200 lakhs as NOF for NBFCs to carry or commence operations has not been challenged by the petitioners. Therefore, if they do not achieved the said conditions, they cannot to continue to remain in business.

Fourth, it was submitted that the reasons assigned by the petitioners in the reply to the show cause notice were considered and the reasons not being sustainable were thus rejected.

 

Conclusion

This was a landmark hearing in the case of NBFCs with increasing pressure as of recent times. Many NBFCs may now apply for restoration of their licenses as per the present laws or file for statutory appeals. The case stands as an indication of the firm regulatory policies of the RBI amidst the environment of credit uncertainty. The last statement of the judgement also stands apt here. The brief sentence read, “Consequently connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.”

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/finance/rbi-cancels-license-of-56-nbfcs-bajaj-finserv-gives-away-license/articleshow/50045835.cms?from=mdr

[2] https://www.businessinsider.in/indias-central-bank-has-scrapped-the-licenses-of-nearly-400-nbfcs-so-far-this-year/articleshow/65698193.cms

[3] https://www.firstpost.com/business/ilfs-dhfl-shocks-may-be-temporary-triggers-but-the-bad-news-for-indian-financial-markets-do-not-end-there-5248071.html

[4] https://enterslice.com/learning/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Madras-high-court-Judgement-on-NBFC-License-Cancellation.pdf

[5] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/91785347/

NBFCs get another chance to reinstate NOF

By Falak Dutta, (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

Since the Sarada scam in 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had been on high alert and had been subsequently tightening regulations for NBFCs, micro-finance firms and such other companies which provide informal banking services. As of December 2015, over 56 NBFC licenses were cancelled[1]. However, recently in light of the uncertain credit environment (recall DHFL and IF&LS) among other reasons, RBI has cancelled around 400 licenses [2]in 2018 primarily due to a shortfall in Net Owned Funds (NOF)[3] among other reasons. The joint entry of the Central Govt. regulators and RBI to calm the volatility in the markets on September 21st, 2018 after an intra-day fall of over 1000 points amid default concerns of DHFL warrants concern. Had it been two isolated incidents the regulators and Union government would have been unlikely to step in. The RBI & SEBI issued a joint statement on September saying they were prepared to step in if market volatility warrants such a situation. This suggests a situation which is more than what meets the eye.

Coming back to NBFCs, over half of the cancelled NBFC licenses in 2018 could be attributed to shortfall in NOFs. NOF is described in Section 45 IA of the RBI Act, 1934. It defines NOF as:

1) “Net owned fund” means–

(a) The aggregate of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves as disclosed in the latest

Balance sheet of the company after deducting therefrom–

(i) Accumulated balance of loss;

(ii) Deferred revenue expenditure; and

(iii) Other intangible assets; and

(b) Further reduced by the amounts representing–

(1) Investments of such company in shares of–

(i) Its subsidiaries;

(ii) Companies in the same group;

(iii) All other non-banking financial companies; and

(2) The book value of debentures, bonds, outstanding loans and advances

(including hire-purchase and lease finance) made to, and deposits with,–

(i) Subsidiaries of such company; and

(ii) Companies in the same group, to the extent such amount exceeds ten per cent of (a) above.

At present, the threshold amount that has to be maintained is stipulated at 2 crore, from the previous minimum of 25 lakhs. Previously, to meet this requirement of Rs. 25 lakh a time period of three years was given. During this tenure, NBFCs were allowed to carry on business irrespective of them not meeting business conditions. Moreover, this period could be extended by a further 3 years, which should not exceed 6 years in aggregate. However, this can only be done after stating the reason in writing and this extension is in complete discretion of the RBI. The failure to maintain this threshold amount within the stipulated time had led to this spurge of license cancellations in 2018.

However, the Madras High Court judgement dated 29-1-2019 came as a big relief to over 2000 NBFCs whose license had been cancelled due a delay in fulfilling the shortfall.

 

THE JUDGEMENT[4]

The regulations

On 27-3-2015 the RBI by notification No. DNBR.007/CGM(CDS)-2015 specified two hundred lakhs rupees as the NOF required for an NBFC to commence or carry on the business. It further stated that an NBFC holding a CoR and having less than two hundred lakh rupees may continue to carry on the business, if such a company achieves the NOF of one hundred lakh rupees before 1-04-2016 and two hundred lakhs of rupees before 1-04-2017.

The Petitioner’s claim

The petition was filed by 4 NBFCs namely Nahar Finance & Leasing Ltd., Lodha Finance India Ltd., Valluvar Development Finance Pvt. Ltd. and Senthil Finance Pvt. Ltd. for the cancellation of CoR[5] against the RBI. The petitioners claim that they had been complying with all the statutory regulations and regularly filing various returns and furnishing the required information to the Registrar of Companies. These petitions were in response to the RBI issued Show Cause Notices to the petitioners proposing to cancel the CoR and initiate penal action. The said SCNs were responded to by the petitioners contending that they had NOF of Rs.104.50 lakhs, Rs.34.19 lakhs, Rs.79.50 lakhs and Rs.135 lakhs respectively, as on 31.03.2017.

Valluvar Development Finance also sent a reply stating that they had achieved the required NOF on 23-10-2017, attaching a certificate from the Statutory Auditor to support its claim. The other petitioners however submitted that due to significant change in the economy including the policies of the Govt. of India during the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 like de-monetization and implementation of Goods & Services Tax, the entire working of the finance sector was impaired and as such sought extension of time till 31-03-2019 to comply with the requirements.

Now despite seeking extension of time, having given explanations to the SCNs, the CoRs were cancelled without an opportunity for the NBFCs to be heard.

 

The Decision

It was argued that there is a remedy provided against the cancellation of the CoRs, the petitioners had chosen to invoke Article 226 contending violation of the principles of justice. The proviso to Section 45-IA(6) relates to the contentions in regards to cancellation of the CoRs.

“45-IA. Requirement of registration and net owned fund –

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a non-banking financial company in existence on the commencement of the Reserve Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 1997 and having a net owned fund of less than twenty five lakhs rupees may, for the purpose of enabling such company to fulfill the requirement of the net owned fund, continue to carry on the business of a non-banking financial institution–

(i) for a period of three years from such commencement; or

(ii) for such further period as the Bank may, after recording the reasons in writing for so doing, extend,

subject to the condition that such company shall, within three months of fulfilling the requirement of the net owned fund, inform the Bank about such fulfillment:

Provided further that before making any order of cancellation of certificate of registration, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

(7) A company aggrieved by the order of rejection of application for registration or cancellation of certificate of registration may prefer an appeal, within a period of thirty days from the date on which such order of rejection or cancellation is communicated to it, to the Central Government and the decision of the Central Government where an appeal has been preferred to it, or of the Bank where no appeal has been preferred, shall be final:

Provided that before making any order of rejection of appeal, such company shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

The decision was taken on two grounds. First, the statute specifically provides for an opportunity of personal hearing besides calling for an explanation. The amended provision is very particular that opportunity of being personally heard is mandatory, as the very amendment relates to finance companies, which are already carrying on business also. Not affording this opportunity would cripple the business of the petitioners.

Second, the amended section provides NBFCs sufficient time to enhance their NOF by carrying on business and comply with the notifications. For the aforesaid reasons, the orders by the RBI requires interference. Resultantly, the respondents (RBI authorities) are directed to restore the CoR of the petitioners and also extend the time given to the petitioners.

 

CONCLUSION

This was a landmark hearing in the case of NBFCs as they had been under increasing pressure as of recent times. Many NBFCs can now apply for restoration of their licenses and might already have. The case doesn’t just stand the case for NOF conflicts but will also ring in the minds of regulators in the future, compelling greater caution and concern. The last statement of the judgement stands apt here. The brief sentence read,” Consequently connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.”

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/finance/rbi-cancels-license-of-56-nbfcs-bajaj-finserv-gives-away-license/articleshow/50045835.cms?from=mdr

[2] https://www.businessinsider.in/indias-central-bank-has-scrapped-the-licenses-of-nearly-400-nbfcs-so-far-this-year/articleshow/65698193.cms

[3] https://www.firstpost.com/business/ilfs-dhfl-shocks-may-be-temporary-triggers-but-the-bad-news-for-indian-financial-markets-do-not-end-there-5248071.html

[4] https://enterslice.com/learning/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Madras-high-court-Judgement-on-NBFC-License-Cancellation.pdf

[5] Certificate of Registration

Extension of Ombudsman Scheme to remaining class of notified NBFCs

By Dibisha Mishra (dibisha@vinodkothari.com)

Updated as on April 26, 2019

Introduction

Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its Statement on Development and Regulatory Policies[1] dated April 04, 2019, stated its intention to extend the same to the remaining notified classes of NBFCs as well, by the end of April, 2019.

Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018 (Scheme) on 23rd February, 2018[2] was introduced with the intent of curbing down the time, costs and complexities involved in complaint redressal mechanism for certain services rendered by non-banking financial companies (NBFC). The salient features of the Scheme worth taking note of has been explained in our previous article.[3] The Scheme covered within its ambit, all NBFCs registered with RBI, who are:

  • authorized to accept deposits; or
  • having customer interface, with assets size of Rs. 100 Crores or above, as on the date of the audited balance sheet of the previous financial year,

(hereinafter referred to as “notified classes of NBFCs”)

However, to start with, the Scheme was made applicable to deposit taking NBFCs only and the idea was to make it applicable on the other notified classes of NBFCs, once the same could gather some traction.

Subsequently, as per RBI’s recent statement in regard to increased applicability, a formal notification in this regard was expected to follow. The aforesaid has finally been notified vide. RBI’s notification dated April 26, 2019[4].

Considering the importance of the matter, in this article we will discuss all that the remaining notified classes of NBFCs must prepare for.

Applicability

As already stated the Scheme is applicable to all notified classes of NBFCs, however, the following classes of companies are excluded from its purview:

  • Non-banking Financial Company – Infrastructure Finance Company (NBFC-IFC);
  • Core Investment Company (CIC);
  • Infrastructure Debt Fund – Non-banking Financial Company (IDF-NBFC); and
  • A company under liquidation.

To do list for newly included entities

Upon notification of Scheme, the newly notified NBFCs will have to immediately take care of the following:

  1. Make the copy of the Scheme available on the website and also with the designated officer of the company for perusal in the office premises.
  2. Display prominently in all its offices and branches:
  • the purpose of the Scheme;
  • the contact details of the Ombudsman to whom the complaint is to be made by the aggrieved customer;
  • notice about the availability of the copy of Scheme with such designated officer.
  1.  Appoint Nodal Officers at Head/ Registered/ Regional/ Zonal Offices and inform all the Offices of the Ombudsman about the same.
  2. Nodal Officers so appointed must be responsible for representing the company and furnishing information to the Ombudsman in respect of complaints filed against the NBFC.
  3. Wherever more than one zone/ region of a NBFC is falling within the jurisdiction of an Ombudsman, designate one of the Nodal Officers as the ‘Principal Nodal Officer’ for such zones or regions

Pre-Conditions for availing the Scheme by an aggrieved customer

A customer aggrieved by the acts of the company or its representatives can make an application under the Scheme, however, the following pre-conditions must be satisfied before making an application:

  1. Complaint must refer to any of the grounds mentioned under Clause 8 of the Scheme.
  2. Customer must have filed a written representation to the respective NBFC regarding the grievance
  3. Concerned NBFC must have rejected the complaint or the complainant must not have received any reply within one month of NBFC receiving the representation or the complainant must not have been satisfied with the reply given to him by the NBFC.
  4. Not more than one year must have elapsed after the complainant received the unsatisfactory reply or where no reply was received, not later than one year and one month have elapsed after the date of representation to NBFC.
  5. The complaint must not be in respect of the same cause of action which was settled or dealt with on merits by the Ombudsman in any previous proceedings whether or not received from the same complainant or along with one or more complainants or one or more of the parties concerned with the cause of action;
  6. The complaint must not pertain to the same cause of action, for which any proceedings before any court, tribunal or arbitrator or any other forum is pending or a decree or Award or order has been passed by any such court, tribunal, arbitrator or forum;
  7. The complaint must not be frivolous or vexatious in nature;
  8. The complaint must fall under the period of limitation prescribed under the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 for such claims; and
  9. The complainant must have filed along with the complaint, copies of the documents, if any, which he intends to rely upon, and a declaration that the complaint is maintainable under Clause 9-A.

Roadmap while availing the Scheme

Once the complainant is satisfied that the aforesaid conditions are satisfied, it will have to take the following route to make the application:

  1. Make a complaint, as per Annex II of the Scheme, to the Ombudsman under whose jurisdiction the concerned NBFC falls. The complaint can be made either by the aggrieved customer himself or by his authorized representative;
  2. Where extra clarification or documents is required from the customer, the same is to be provided;
  3. Ombudsman shall send a copy of the complaint to the branch or registered office of the NBFC named in the complaint, under advice to the designated Nodal Officer (NO);
  4. Ombudsman may require NBFC to provide information or furnish certified copies of any document relating to the complaint which is or is alleged to be in its possession;
  5. Endeavour should be made to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and the NBFC through conciliation or mediation. He/ she may convene a meeting of NBFC and the complainant together to promote an amicable resolution;
  6. If complaint is still not settled by agreement, Ombudsman shall pass an award of either allowing or rejecting the case after giving both parties an opportunity of being heard;
  7. The Ombudsman shall take into account the evidence being placed, the underlying principles on which the practices, directions, instructions and guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank from time to time and such other factors which in his opinion are relevant to the complaint;
  8. A copy of the Award shall be sent to the complainant and the NBFC free of cost;
  9. An Award shall take effect only when the complainant furnishes to the NBFC and the Ombudsman concerned within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of copy of the Award, a letter of acceptance of the Award in full and final settlement of his claim;
  10. Unless an appeal is filed, the NBFC shall then comply with the Award and intimate compliance of the same to the complainant and the Ombudsman;
  11. Award or appeal rejection can be appealed against within 30 days of receipt of such communication.

Conclusion

The Ombudsman scheme plays a very important role in the banking system. Considering the growing importance of NBFCs in the country, introduction of this became essential. However, effectiveness of any initiative depends on how well the beneficiaries of the same are informed; same will be the case with this Scheme as well. This Scheme will turn out to be fruitful only if the same borrowers are educated about this. RBI must also take some initiative to achieve that as well

[1] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR23654E42140EAC6347D1A9D08AF62F5BF2E9.PDF

[2] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Content/PDFs/NBFC23022018.pdf

[3] http://vinodkothari.com/2018/02/rbis-ombudsman-storm-tough-road-ahead-for-nbfcs/

[4] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11546&Mode=0

Indefinite deferral of IFRS for banks: needed reprieve or deferring the pain?

Vinod Kothari (vinod@vinodkothari.com); Abhirup Ghosh (abhirup@vinodkothari.com)

On 22 March, 2019, just days before the onset of the new financial year, when banks were supposed to be moving into IFRS, the RBI issued a notification[1], giving Indian banks indefinite time for moving into IFRS. Most global banks have moved into IFRS; a survey of implementation for financial institutions shows that there are few countries, especially which are less developed, where banks are still adopting traditional GAAPs. However, whether the Notification of the RBI is giving the banks a break that they badly needed, or is just giving them today’s gain for tomorrow’s pain, remains to be analysed.

The RBI notifications lays it on the legislative changes which, as it says, are required to implement IFRS. It refers to the First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy 2018-19[2], wherein there was reference to legislative changes, and preparedness. There is no mention in the present  notification for preparedness – it merely points to the required legislative changes. The legislative change in the BR Act would have mostly been to the format of financial statements – which is something that may be brought by way of notification. That is how it has been done in case of the Companies Act.

This article analyses the major ways in which IFRS would have affected Indian banks, and what does the notification mean to the banking sector.

Major changes that IFRS would have affected bank accounting:

  • Expected Credit Loss – Currently, financial institutions in India follow an incurred credit loss model for providing for financial assets originated by them. Under the ECL model, financial assets will have to be classified into three different stages depending on credit risk in the asset and they are:
    • Stage 1: Where the credit risk in the asset has not changed significantly as compared to the credit risk at the time of origination of the asset.
    • Stage 2: Where the credit risk in the asset has increased significantly as compared to the credit risk at the time of origination of the asset.
    • Stage 3: Where the asset is credit impaired.

While for stage 1 financial assets, ECL has to be provided for based on 12 months’ expected losses, for the remaining stages, ECL has to be provided for based on lifetime expected losses.

The ECL methodology prescribed is very subjective in nature, this implies that the model will vary based on the management estimates of each entity; this is in sharp contrast to the existing provisioning methodology where regulators prescribed for uniform provisioning requirements.

Also, since the provisioning requirements are pegged with the credit risk in the asset, this could give rise to a situation where the one single borrower can be classified into different stages in books of two different financial institutions. In fact, this could also lead to a situation where two different accounts of one single borrower can be classified into two different stages in the books of one financial entity.

  • De-recognition rules – Like ECL provisioning requirements, another change that will hurt banks dearly is the criteria for derecognition of financial assets.

Currently, a significant amount of NPAs are currently been sold to ARCs. Normally, transactions are executed in a 15:85 structure, where 15% of sale consideration is discharged in cash and the remaining 85% is discharged by issuing SRs. Since, the originators continue to hold 85% of the SRs issued against the receivables even after the sell-off, there is a chance that the trusts floated by the ARCs can be deemed to be under the control of the originator. This will lead to the NPAs coming back on the balance sheet of banks by way of consolidation.

  • Fair value accounting – Fair value accounting of financial assets is yet another change in the accounting treatment of financial assets in the books of the banks. Earlier, the unquoted investments were valued at carrying value, however, as per the new standards, all financial assets will have to be fair valued at the time of transitioning and an on-going basis.

It is expected that the new requirements will lead to capital erosion for most of the banks and for some the hit can be one-half or more, considering the current quality of assets the banks are holding. This deferment allows the banks to clean up their balance sheet before transitioning which will lead to less of an impact on the capital, as it is expected that the majority of the impact will be caused due to ECL provisioning.

World over most of the jurisdictions have already implemented IFRS in the banking sector. In fact, a study[3] shows that major banks in Europe have been able to escape the transitory effects with small impact on their capital. The table below shows the impact of first time adoption of IFRS on some of the leading banking corporations in Europe:

Impact of this deferment on NBFCs

While RBI has been deferring its plan to implement IFRS in the banking sector for quite some time, this deferral was not considered for NBFCs at all, despite the same being admittedly less regulated than banks. The first phase of implementation among NBFCs was already done with effect from 1st April, 2018.

This early implementation of IFRS among NBFCs and deferral for banks leads to another issue especially for the NBFCs which are associates/ subsidiaries of banking companies and are having to follow Ind AS. While these NBFCs will have to prepare their own financials as per Ind AS, however, they will have to maintain separate financials as per IGAAP for the purpose of consolidation by banks.

What does this deferment mean for banks which have global listing?

As already stated, IFRS have been implemented in most of the jurisdictions worldwide, this would create issues for banks which are listed on global stock exchanges. This could lead to these banks maintaining two separate accounts – first, as per IGAAP for regulatory reporting requirements in India and second, as per IFRS for regulatory reporting requirements in the foreign jurisdictions.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11506&Mode=0

[2] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=43574

[3] https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/research/european-banks-capital-survives-new-ifrs-9-accounting-impact-but-concerns-remain

Should OCI be included as a part of Tier I capital for financial institutions?

India has been adopted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the form of Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) in a phased manner since 2016. Different implementation schedules have been issued by different regulatory authorities for different classes of companies and they are:

  • Ministry of Corporate Affairs –
    • For non-banking non-financial companies – Implementation schedule started from 1st April, 2016
    • For non-banking financial companies – Implementation schedule started from 1st April, 2018
  • Reserve Bank of India –
    • For banking companies – The original scheduled start date was 1st April, 2018, subsequently, it was shifted to 1st April, 2019. However, a recent notification from the RBI has shifted the implementation schedule indefinitely.[1]
  • Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India –
    • For insurance companies – The implementation schedule starts from 1st April, 2020.

Consequent upon implementation of IFRS, it is logical that the regulatory framework for financial institutions will also require modifications to bring it in line with the provisions requirements under the new standards.

Though the Ind AS already been implemented in the NBFC sector, no modifications in the existing regulations have been made. Consequently, this has led to the creation of several ambiguities; and one such is regarding treatment of the Other Comprehensive Income (OCI), as per Ind AS 109, for the purpose of computing Tier 1 capital.

This write up will solely focus on the issue relating to treatment of OCI for the purpose of Tier 1 capital.

Other Comprehensive Income (OCI)

Before delving further into specifics, let us have a quick recap of the concept of the OCI. The format of income reporting under Ind AS has undergone a significant change. Under Ind AS, the statement of profit or loss gives us Total Comprehensive Income which consists of a) profit or loss for the period and b) OCI. While the first component represents the profit or loss earned by the reporting entity during the financial year, OCI represents unrealized gains or losses from financial assets of the reporting entity.  

The intention of showing OCI in the books of the accounts, is that it protects the gains/losses of companies from oscillation. As the fair values of assets and liabilities fluctuate with the market, parking the unrealized gains in the OCI and not in the P/L account provides stability. In addition to investment and pension plan gains and losses, OCI also captures that the hedging transactions undertaken by the company. By segregating OCI transactions from operating income, a financial statement reader can compare income between years and have more clarity about the sources of income.

While profit or loss earned during the year forms part of the surplus or other reserves in the balance sheet, OCI is shown separately under the Equity segment of the balance sheet.

Capital Risk Adequacy Ratio

Moving on to the meaning of capital risk adequacy ratio (CRAR), it is a measurement of a bank’s available capital expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposures. The CRAR is used to protect creditors and promote the stability and efficiency of financial institutions. This in turn results in providing protection against insolvency. Two types of capital are measured: Tier-I capital, which can absorb losses without a bank being required to cease trading, and Tier-II capital, which can absorb losses in the event of a winding-up and so provides a lesser degree of protection to depositors.

The concept of CRAR comes from the Basel framework laid down by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), a division of Bank of International Settlement. The latest framework being followed worldwide is Basel III framework.

RBI has also adopted the Basel framework, however, with modifications to suit the economic environment in the country. The CRAR requirements have been made applicable to banks as well as NBFCs, however, the requirements vary. While banks are required to maintain 9% CRAR, NBFCs are required to maintain 15% CRAR.

To understand whether OCI should form part of CRAR, it is important to understand the components of CRAR.

Components of Tier I and II Capital as per RBI Master Directions[2] for NBFCs

For the purpose of this write-up, requirements have been examined only from the point of view of NBFCs, as Ind AS is yet to be implemented for banking companies.

CRAR comprises of two parts – Tier I capital and Tier II capital. Each of the two have been defined in the Master Directions issued by the RBI, in the following manner:

(xxxii) “Tier I Capital” means owned fund as reduced by investment in shares of other non-banking financial companies and in shares, debentures, bonds, outstanding loans and advances including hire purchase and lease finance made to and deposits with subsidiaries and companies in the same group exceeding, in the aggregate, ten percent of the owned fund; and perpetual debt instruments issued by a non-deposit taking non-banking financial company in each year to the extent it does not exceed 15% of the aggregate Tier I Capital of such companies as on March 31 of the previous accounting year;

The term “owned funds” have been defined as:

“owned fund” means paid up equity capital, preference shares which are 9 compulsorily convertible into equity, free reserves, balance in share premium account and capital reserves representing surplus arising out of sale proceeds of asset, excluding reserves created by revaluation of asset, as reduced by accumulated loss balance, book value of intangible assets and deferred revenue expenditure, if any;

Tier II capital has been defined as:

(xxxiii) “Tier II capital” includes the following:

  • preference shares other than those which are compulsorily convertible into equity;
  • revaluation reserves at discounted rate of fifty five percent;
  • General provisions (including that for Standard Assets) and loss reserves to the extent these are not attributable to actual diminution in value or identifiable potential loss in any specific asset and are available to meet unexpected losses, to the extent of one and one fourth percent of risk weighted assets;
  • hybrid debt capital instruments;
  • subordinated debt; and
  • perpetual debt instruments issued by a non-deposit taking non-banking financial company which is in excess of what qualifies for Tier I Capital, to the extent the aggregate does not exceed Tier I capital.

The above definitions of Tier I and II capital do not talk about OCI. However, the Directions were prepared before the implementation of Ind AS 109 and no clarity on the subject has come from RBI post implementation of Ind AS 109.

Therefore, for determining whether OCI should be made a part of Tier I or Tier II capital, we can draw reference from Basel III framework.

Components of Tier I capital as per Basel III framework [3]

As per Para 52 of the framework, the Tier I capital consists of:

Common Equity Tier 1 capital consists of the sum of the following elements:

  • Common shares issued by the bank that meet the criteria for classification as common shares for regulatory purposes (or the equivalent for non-joint stock companies);
  • Stock surplus (share premium) resulting from the issue of instruments included Common Equity Tier 1;
  • Retained earnings;
  • Accumulated other comprehensive income and other disclosed reserves;
  • Common shares issued by consolidated subsidiaries of the bank and held by third parties (ie minority interest) that meet the criteria for inclusion in Common Equity Tier 1 capital. See section 4 for the relevant criteria; and
  • Regulatory adjustments applied in the calculation of Common Equity Tier 1

Retained earnings and other comprehensive income include interim profit or loss. National authorities may consider appropriate audit, verification or review procedures. Dividends are removed from Common Equity Tier 1 in accordance with applicable accounting standards. The treatment of minority interest and the regulatory adjustments applied in the calculation of Common Equity Tier 1 are addressed in separate sections.

The Basel III norms clearly states that accumulated other comprehensive income forms a part of the Tier I capital.

It is very interesting to note that RBI had also adopted Basel III framework on July 1, 2015, however, the framework adopted and introduced is silent on the treatment of the OCI, unlike the original Basel III framework. The reason for the omission of the concept of OCI is that the framework was adopted in India way before Ind AS implementation and under the erstwhile IGAAP, there was no concept of OCI or booking of unrealized gains or losses in the books of accounts.

It is well understood that due to the very recent implementation of IndAS 109, the guidelines have not been revised in line with the IndAS. However, going by the spirit of Basel III regulation, this leaves us very little doubt what the treatment of OCI for the purpose of CRAR computation should be. Therefore, one can safely conclude that the OCI should form part of Tier I capital, unless, anything contrary is issued by the RBI subsequently.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11506&Mode=0

[2] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/45MD01092016B52D6E12D49F411DB63F67F2344A4E09.PDF0

[3] https://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs189.pdf

Revised Guidelines on KYC & Anti-Money Laundering Measures for HFCs

Aadhaar Ordinance – Paving way for use of voluntary Aadhaar by Private Companies

By Simran Jalan (simran@vinodkothari.com)

Introduction

Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. V. Union of India, W.P. (Civil) 494/2012 dated September 26, 2018[1] (‘Aadhaar Verdict’) partially quashed section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which dealt with use of Aadhaar by private companies or bodies corporate. Pursuant to the Aadhaar verdict, the private entities were not allowed to demand Aadhaar for establishing identity unless the same is pursuant to any law.

Consequently, it was proposed to amend the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (‘Aadhaar Act’), Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (‘PML Act’) in line with the Supreme Court directives. In order to ensure that personal data of Aadhaar holder remains protected against any misuse and Aadhaar scheme remains in conformity with the Constitution, the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019[2] (Ordinance) was passed.

In this write-up we intend to discuss the outcome of the Ordinance.

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