MUMBAI : The crisis at Dewan Housing Finance Corp. Ltd (DHFL) may have claimed its first victim in Subala Dasi Biswas of Bhilai who died on 10 November, even as about 100,000 other depositors wait anxiously for the money they placed with the non-bank lender. Public deposits of over 6,000 crore are stuck at DHFL following a court order, even as banks work on a rescue plan for the beleaguered lender.

The Bombay high court on 10 October barred DHFL from making any payment to unsecured creditors, which includes deposit holders. A modified order on 13 November that allowed DHFL to make payments in lieu of securitization deals did not bring any relief for the FD holders.

Speaking over the phone from Bhilai, Mridul Kumar Biswas said his 78-year-old mother held 15 fixed deposits totalling 38 lakh in DHFL. While two had matured in November, the rest will mature in the coming years. Biswas, an employee at Bhilai Steel Plant, said his mother died hours after he informed her that some of her FDs, although matured, will not be available for a while.

“I spoke to the sales manager here and told her in the afternoon about the fate of her deposits. Soon after I said that, my mother complained of chest pain and breathlessness, and we rushed her to a hospital but she died on the way, at 4:40pm," Biswas said, adding his mother wanted to split the money among her six children, four daughters and two sons.

He added that although his mother was diabetic, she did not have any other pre-existing illness. “I will reach out to DHFL officials once we get her death certificate. I am the nominee for her fixed deposits."

On 1 November, the government ordered the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) to probe suspected irregularities at DHFL, complicating the task of a rescue.

The Bombay HC will hear next week an intervention application by Air Force Group Insurance Society (AFGIS) which has deposits of 55 crore with DHFL. The outcome of this case is likely to affect all deposit holders alike. The society’s total deposits with DHFL are 84 crore.

As on 6 July, DHFL had public deposits of 6,188 crore, down from 10,166.72 crore at the end of March 2018. On 21 May, DHFL stopped accepting public deposits and renewals of existing deposits. It also stopped premature withdrawals of existing deposits to “help reorganize its liability management".

While stopping premature deposit withdrawals in May, DHFL had promised to redeem fixed deposits in case of a medical or financial emergency, subject to fulfilment of appropriate documentation.

Meanwhile, led by Union Bank of India, lenders to DHFL are working on a resolution plan for the company.

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