Banking News dated 29th September 2018

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Banking News: September 29, 2018


Cross Selling: Insurance & Mutual Fund  Text of Joint Note dated September 25, 2018

Cross Selling: Insurance & Mutual Fund
Text of Joint Note dated September 25, 2018

All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC)
All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA)
Indian National Bank Officers’ Congress (INBOC)
National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO)

We reproduce hereunder the joint note dated 25th September, 2018 submitted by the Four Officers’ organisations to the Secretary, DFS, Govt. of India, on the captioned subject for your information.

Date: 25.09.2018
The Secretary                                                                   
Department of Financial Services
Ministry of Finance, Government of India
New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Public Sector Bank’s Engagement in Cross Selling
of Insurance / Mutual Fund Business

At the very outset, we wish to convey our sincere thanks for issuing suitable guidelines to State Bank of India and other Public Sector Banks vide communication F. No 14/42/2015-Vig/Vp dated 10th September 2018, from Shri Gurdeep Singh, Under Secretary (Vigilance), Govt of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services, not to pay commission on cross-selling business to the employees of the Bank as they are full time employees and are paid fixed salaries. The communication has been widely appreciated by Bank employees and officials across rank and file.

2. You will recall that the representatives of all four Officers organisations viz. AIBOC, AIBOA, INBOC, NOBO had met your good office and other senior functionaries on 16th July, 2018 and had submitted a memorandum on this issue.

3. In this connection, we wish to express certain apprehensions regarding the interpretation of the communiqué. A similar communiqué was issued to all banks in 2015 in which it was clarified by RBI that there is a statutory restriction on payment of commission to bank staff under the Banking Regulation Act 1949 and it will amount to violation of BR Act if commission is offered to Bank staff for selling insurance products. Thereafter, the Banks had clarified that no commission was paid to any employees. Incentives were paid as reward/recognition of their efforts in cross selling business. We have been given to understand that in Public Sector Banks, employees are rewarded for their performance in cross-selling business through payment of incentives and the amount equivalent to such reward/incentive is loaded in a prepaid card (also termed achiever card) after deducting the TDS as applicable. The term commission is not mentioned anywhere. Thus, the Banks are likely to circumvent the instruction and continue to pressurise employees to focus only on cross selling for individual gains.

4. Besides the above, employees of all categories of the Banks are also being rewarded with one or two foreign tours every year in the name of ‘educational tours’ for their performance in cross selling of insurance and mutual fund products and the cost of which is entirely borne by the concerned Insurance/Mutual Fund Company. 

5. Against the above backdrop, we shall be glad to have a few lines from your esteemed office as to whether incentive and commission are having same meaning and whether foreign tours provided by Insurance Companies fall within the ambit of commission/incentive. The interpretation of the communiqué in its letter and spirit would be instrumental in ensuring ethical selling of third-party products and reduce the pressure of bank employees and officials to force sell third party products to customers resulting in rampant mis-selling. We again reiterate that, we have no issues against cross-selling per se; we are only concerned about the way it is being forced on bankers resulting in unethical practices.

We once again thank you for the most sought for direction in this regard from the Government. We do hope that the Public Sector Banks will henceforth abide by the said instruction in letter and spirit and undue pressure on employees for increasing cross selling business for personal gain will stop forthwith and more focus will be given on quality advances/other core products and recovery of monies.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

  sd/-                       sd/-                       sd/-                      sd/-
General                General                   General                General
Secretary             Secretary                Secretary             Secretary
AIBOC                  AIBOA                     INBOC                  NOBO


Bankers to join All India Industrial Strike
 for two days on January 8 & 9, 2019

The Indo Asian News Service
Published on September 28, 2018

Chennai, September 28 (IANS): Bank employees under the All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) will go on a two-day strike early next year, said a top leader of the union on Friday.

The bank employees under the banner of AIBEA will join the two-day strike on January 8-9, 2019 according to a decision taken at The National Convention of Workers held in Delhi on Friday, C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA said.

The National Convention of Workers was called by 10 central trade unions and it decided to adopt various protest programmes against the central government's labour policies. One of the programmes is the two-day general strike in January.

The worker unions registered their protest against price rise, disinvestment of public sector units, job losses caused by demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST), economic downturn and labour law violations, among others. The unions opposed the government’s move to introduce fixed-term employment for all industries and demanded scrapping of contract worker system for work perennial in nature.

The unions will hold state-level, district-level and industry-level joint conventions in October and November. It will be followed up by submission of strike notice and demonstrations between 17 and 22 December.

“The central government not only refused to respond to the just and genuine demands of the organised agitation of the worker class, but has been increasing its aggression against the rights of workers, employees and trade unions,” the four-page declaration signed by 10 unions said.

These unions include Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc) and Left-affiliated unions such as All India Trade Union Congress (Aituc), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu), All India United Trade Union Centre, among others.

Bank employees’ union, under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), will also join the strike on January 8 and 9, All India Bank Employees’ Association General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said. Defence sector workers have called for a separate strike from 23-25 January on privatisation of defence sector and the National Pension System under implementation since 2006.

The National Convention also condemned the government’s move to deprive Intuc from all representations in the tripartite and bipartite forums and committee meetings. The Central government had barred Intuc from attending such meetings after two factions within the union had claimed to be leading it.

The unions termed the introduction of fixed-term employment, a form of contract system with a fixed-term tenure for workers, as a “modern labour slavery system” introduced “backdoor” through a notification.

“The estimates by independent surveys and those sponsored by employers’ organisations revealed loss of 70 lakh (7 million) jobs with closure of 234,000 small factory units in the first few months of demonetisation (of old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in November 2016),” the declaration said, adding 60 million people lost their jobs in the informal sector.

The unions also registered their protest against the merger of three public sector banks (PSBs) – Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank – and said the government should fix the problems of non-performing assets and corporate defaults instead of going ahead with this move.


Loans up to Rs 1 crore to MSMEs in just
59 minutes: FM Jaitley launches credit
portal; check key features here

The Financial Express
Published on September 28, 2018

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has launched a web portal through which one can avail loans up to Rs 1 crore in just 59 minutes.

New Delhi, September 27: In a bid to boost credit availability to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has launched a web portal through which one can avail loans up to Rs 1 crore in just 59 minutes. The portal will enable principal approval of loans up to Rs 1 crore for MSMEs from Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and 5 Public Sector Banks (PSBs).

The web portal is www.psbloansin59minutes.com. “The portal sets a new benchmark in loan processing and reduces the turnaround time from 20-25 days to 59 minutes,” the finance ministry said in a statement. Upon approval, the loan will be disbursed in 7-8 working days. On this website, in-principle approval of loans will not require any physical documents.

Here are key features of the MSME loan in 59 minutes plan:

·       MSMEs will be able to apply for loans from SIDBI and 5 PSU Banks — State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Vijaya Bank and Indian Bank.
·       MSMEs will be able to connect with banks without visiting the branch. There will be no human intervention until the sanction and or disbursement stage.
·       The portal will be using “sophisticated algorithms” to read and analyse data points from sources such as IT returns, GST data, bank statement etc.
·       MSMEs can also get loans up to Rs 2 crore without any collateral using this portal.

While applying for the loans, one will require:

·       GST Identification Number (GSTIN), GST User-ID & Password
·       Income Tax E Filing password & Date of Incorporation/ Birth OR ITR for latest 3 years in XML format
·       Current A/c – Net Banking: Username & Password or Bank Statement for last 6 months in PDF format
·       Director/Partner/Proprietor details: Basic, Personal, KYC, Educational details & ownership in the firm
·       Convenience fee Rs 1000 + GST on in-principle approval.


RBI relaxes SLR rules to ease liquidity fears

The Business Line
Published on September 28, 2018

Liquidity Coverage Ratio upped from 11% to 13% from Oct 1

Mumbai, September 27:  The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to dip into the Statutory Liquidity Reserves to resolve any liquidity issues.

Banks are required to maintain an SLR — the proportion of deposits that banks are andated to invest in central and state government securities — of 19.5 per cent of deposits. Now, banks can draw up to 15 per cent of the deposits compared to 13 per cent earlier.

This has been done by enhancing the quantum of securities that banks can pledge to receive funds under the ‘Facility to Avail Liquidity for Liquidity Coverage Ratio (FALLCR). This is a facility that allows banks to draw funds under the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) as per Basel Standards. With effect from October 1, this will be upped from 11 per cent to 13 per cent of a bank’s deposits.

What this means is that 13 per cent of deposit equivalent securities constituting the SLR can be placed with the RBI to draw funds, instead of 11 per cent now.

Banks are allowed to draw liquidity against the securities under FALLCR usually under conditions of stress. LCR gives banks the short-term resilience against liquidity disruptions by ensuring that they have sufficient high quality liquid assets (HQLAs) to survive an acute stress scenario lasting up to 30 days.

The RBI said that its latest measure should supplement the ability of banks to avail themselves of liquidity, if required, from the repo market against high-quality collateral. This, in turn, will help improve the distribution of liquidity in the financial system.

The RBI said it stands ready to meet the liquidity requirements of the system through various instruments depending on the evolving liquidity and market conditions. It cited its Open Market Operations in successive weeks and liberal liquidity infusion through term repos besides the usual Liquidity Adjustment Facility. As of September 26, banks had availed themselves of Rs. 1.88-lakh crore in term repos.

The State bank of India, in its research report Ecowrap, underscored that the uncertainty in the market is contributing to the credit crisis.

Soumya Kanti Ghosh, SBI Group Chief Economic Adviser, said that the RBI’s move will lead to injection of around Rs. 2-lakh crore of assured liquidity at the repo rate and ensure that the weighted average call money rate remains around the policy rate.”


State Bank of India to review sectors of exposure

The New Indian Express
Published on September 29, 2018

Amid mounting bad loans plaguing the banking system, the State Bank of India (SBI) has set up an intermediary mechanism to review sectors of exposure

Bhubaneswar, September 28:  Amid mounting bad loans plaguing the banking system, the State Bank of India (SBI) has set up an intermediary mechanism to review sectors of exposure. The bank expects a recovery of around 53 per cent of its exposure in the Reserve Bank of India’s first list of 12 stressed accounts referred to NCLT for corporate insolvency resolution, an official said on Friday.

“The review mechanism, which started functioning two months ago, would calculate the probability of default of an exposure and thereafter decide if it would be prudent to go ahead or not. We’re expecting a recovery of about 53 per cent and will take a haircut of 47 per cent without impacting the balance sheet,” said SBI managing director Dinesh Khara, adding that the average provisioning for these cases will be around 55 per cent.

Khara also said SBI would be able to make adequate provisions for the second list of NPAs by the time these cases are heard in NCLT. “We have 75 per cent provisions already in place in the second list. By the time they are heard, we are confident of making 100 per cent provisions,” he said.


SBI to review its exposure to NBFCs

The Business Line
Published on September 29, 2018

Kolkata, September 28: State Bank of India is reviewing its exposure to non-banking finance companies (NBFCs).

According to Sujit Kumar Varma, Deputy Managing Director, Corporate Accounts Group, SBI, this is an ongoing process. “As per preliminary assessments, there is no liquidity or asset-liability mismatch seen in NBFCs,” he said on the sidelines of a banking seminar organised by CII in Kolkata on Friday.

However, the review assumes significance in light of the IL&FS incident, where the company defaulted on repayment of its commercial paper dues. The subsequent and sharp downgrading of IL&FS’s ratings had a contagious effect, leading to massive selling of NBFC stocks on fears of a possible liquidity crisis.

The review process is expected to be completed in the next fortnight. SBI has around ₹2 lakh crore of exposure to NBFCs, a majority of which are into housing and other retail finance. Ruling out any ‘systemic risks’ or fear of liquidity crisis, Varma said that the bank would continue to lend to the sector, moving forward.

Corporate loan growth

The bank is expecting its corporate loan book to grow by nearly 6 per cent in FY19, compared to the same period last year. Its advances to the corporate sector had grown by close to 3 per cent in FY18.

Corporate loans, which accounted for nearly 70 per cent of its total advances till two-to-three years back, has shrunk and is now down to close to 40 per cent. However, credit offtake by the corporate sector is expected to pick up, primarily driven by PSUs and private investments into sectors such as automotive, oil and gas, and others, he said.

“There is a general pick-up in credit demand from the corporate sector. The resolutions happening through the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) will further help improve incremental credit demand to the sector,” he said.

Credit review mechanism

According to Khara, about two months back, the bank had introduced an intermediary credit review mechanism to ‘critically review’ credit proposals.

It is hopeful of recovering around 53 per cent of its exposure to the first list of 12 stressed accounts referred to the NCLT for corporate insolvency resolution.

“We have made adequate provisions for this and it will not impact the balance sheet. Our average provisioning for these cases would be around 55 per cent,” Khara said.


RBI bars Bandhan Bank from
opening new branches

The Business Line
Published on September 29, 2018

Kolkata, September 28: The RBI on Friday pulled up Bandhan Bank for its failure to bring down promoter holding to 40 per cent as mandated in the licensing norms for universal bank. The central bank has withdrawn permission to open new branches and put a freeze on the remuneration of the MD&CEO, CS Ghosh.

Promoter holding in the bank currently stands at 82.28 per cent.

“RBI has communicated to us that since the bank was not able to bring down the shareholding of Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) to 40 per cent as required under the licensing condition, general permission to open new branches stands withdrawn and the bank can open branches with prior approval of RBI and the remuneration of the MD&CEO stands frozen at the existing level, till further notice,” the bank said in a communication to the bourses on Friday.

The bank is taking necessary steps to comply with the licensing condition to bring down the shareholding of NOFHC in the bank to 40 per cent and shall continue to engage with RBI in this behalf, the bank said.


Despite ruling, unique ID
will continue to simplify KYC

G Naga Sridhar
The Business Line
Published on September 29, 2018

Hyderabad, September 28: Even though your bank can no longer insist you submit Aadhaar number, the unique identity number will continue to be relevant as a key parameter for individual comfort and transparency in digital banking.

The Supreme Court on September 26, 2018 gave its final verdict on Aadhaar saying its seeding with bank accounts is no longer mandatory. But acceptance of Aadhaar-based Know Your Customer (KYC) norms has become common for opening new bank accounts, buying insurance or even to get a mobile phone connection.

According to a senior executive of a Mumbai-based public sector bank, Aadhaar will continue to be important on many counts.

“While offering ease of transaction for customers in KYC validation, annual verification for distribution of pensions/social welfare schemes and in opening paperless accounts, use of Aadhaar has positive operational and cost implications for banks as well,” he told Business Line.

Mandatory linking of Aadhaar with Permanent Account Number (PAN) but not for bank accounts will make them mutually exclusive. If they are linked it will help track income and bank account trajectory, say experts.

For financial inclusion and direct benefit transfer (DBT), Aadhaar has already been the fulcrum in view of massive Aadhaar seeding drives conducted by banks till recently. It has shown significant impact on the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts of public sector banks. For instance, of the 10.03 crore PMJDY accounts of State Bank of India, 7.47 crore accounts have been seeded with Aadhaar as on June 2018.

As on January 2018, out of 106.41 crore current accounts and savings accounts, 82.47 crore accounts are linked with Aadhaar.

According to the DBT Mission, over ₹59,000 crore savings were achieved due to DBT under various welfare schemes due to elimination of ghost beneficiaries.

It is expected that those who already have Aadhaar and have seeded it with banks will have to continue to use it without any break. At an individual level, digital KYC is a big-game changer. Aadhaar will continue to be relevant for those who use it in many financial transactions.


CBI books Hyderabad firm for
cheating banks of Rs 1,700 crore

The Indo Asian News Service
Published on September 28, 2018

Hyderabad, September 28 (IANS): The CBI on Thursday said it has a registered a case against a Hyderabad-based telecom equipment manufacturing company VMC Systems and its directors over an alleged bank fraud case to the tune of Rs 1,700, on the complaint of Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that it carried out searches at over three locations in Hyderabad at the residence and office premises of the directors.

A senior CBI official said here that it has named Vuppalapati Hima Bindu, Vuppalapati Venkat Rama Rao and Bhagvatula Venkat Ramanna under various sections of the IPC for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery, based on the complaint of the bank.

The PNB is already burdened with Rs 13,500-crore fraud committed by fugitive jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group.

In its complaint to the CBI, the PNB alleged that the company had defaulted on repayment of loans worth Rs 1,700 crore to a consortium of banks.

The bank alleged that about Rs 539 crore outstanding was due to it from the company, while over Rs 1,207 crore is pending towards the State Bank of India (SBI), Corporation Bank, Andhra Bank and the JM Financial Assets Reconstruction Company.

According to the CBI, the VMC Systems -- manufacturer of telecom and power sector equipment -- had availed working capital credit facilities on August 12, 2009 to the tune of Rs 1,010.50 crore.

The PNB further alleged that the VMC Systems diverted the funds given to it as loan by the consortium of banks.


How India’s Credit Raters Missed
 an Epic Fail at Project Lender

Brian Bremner, Anurag Joshi & P R Sanjai
The Bloomberg News Online
Published on September 28, 2018

Mumbai, September 28 (Bloomberg): Indian authorities have spent the week containing the collateral damage from a major infrastructure lender struggling to service $12.6 billion in debt. Next up: Figuring out why the nation’s credit rating agencies didn’t see the crisis coming.

IL&FS Group is a vast conglomerate with a complex corporate structure that funds infrastructure projects across the world’s fastest-growing major economy. The financier, set up in 1987, and its listed subsidiaries have powered India’s infrastructure boom-- including the Chenani-Nashri road tunnel, India’s longest--and raised billions of dollars from the country’s corporate debt market.

In July, company founder Ravi Parthasarathy stepped down, citing health reasons. In August a default within the group rattled India’s money markets, added to pressure on corporate bond yields and sparked a sell-off in the stock market. The Reserve Bank of India has initiated a special audit, given the potential systemic risk the group poses to other non-bank lenders and worries about $500 million of repayment obligations coming due over the next six months.

The nation’s credit rating industry has come under scrutiny after the firms that assessed IL&FS, including the local partners of Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, failed to see the financial troubles brewing at the financier. The group’s debt burden jumped 44 percent in the year ended March 31 from 2015.

"Rating agencies need better market intelligence and surveillance rather than depending upon historical data and some structure based on past estimates." said Nirmal Gangwal, founder of Brescon Corporate Advisors Pvt., a distressed asset turnaround specialist. "They also need to factor changes on the ground like change of leadership, cash flow management in recent past and market environment."

Great Unravelling

The Indian credit rating companies’ failure to foresee the great unravelling at IL&FS has left Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top economic policymakers, including Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, facing contagion risk to the broader financial sector.

“There is definitely a case for revisiting ratings standards and the whole rating framework,” Rajiv Kumar, India’s banking secretary said in an interview. “Some kind of accountability needs to be there. It has to be made more robust.”

IL&FS is a huge borrower, accounting for 2 percent of outstanding commercial paper, 1 percent of debentures and as much as 0.7 percent of banking system loans. The group itself in turn acts as a key source of capital to non-bank lenders. Another worry is a stampede by individual investors out of fixed-income mutual funds that will force portfolio managers to sell other companies’ debt securities to cover redemption requests, setting off a vicious cycle.

"We have not had this kind of a systemic event of this magnitude in the bond market before in India, and so we don’t really have a precedent as to how to deal with it," said Kunal Shah, a debt fund manager who oversees nearly $1.7 billion at Mumbai-based Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Co.

Until July, India’s credit rating companies had investment grade ratings on billions of dollars of corporate debt raised by the IL&FS Group and its subsidiaries. The first signs of trouble came in June, when the special purpose vehicles tied to IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd., a group subsidiary, defaulted on its debt obligations. More defaults in other parts of the empire followed in August and September.

In August, major credit rating companies such as ICRA, a unit of Moody’s, Fitch-owned India Ratings & Research and CARE began to cut their rating for the group’s parent company, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services. More rating downgrades to default status came in September. All three rating assessors declined to comment.

Project Slowdown

The burning question now is whether credit analysts should have seen the financial reckoning at the IL&FS group earlier. It was no secret that funding costs for companies in India surged as the interest rates in the nation’s credit markets hit multi-year highs. For IL&FS, short-term debt increased 30 percent to 135.6 billion rupees ($1.9 billion) in the year to March 31, according the company’s annual report.

The pace of new infrastructure projects has slowed down in India, and some of IL&FS’s own construction projects, including roads and ports, have faced cost overruns amid delays in land acquisition and approvals. Disputes over contracts have locked about 90 billion rupees of payments due from the government.

Indian credit ratings companies rely on the same “issuer-pays” model common in the U.S. that allows the entity issuing a financial instrument to pay credit analysts upfront to rate the underlying securities. S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch were criticized for placing profits before investors when rating mortgage securities in the run-up to the U.S. financial crisis in 2008.

"Where we have gone wrong in India is where regulators have written regulations that force regulated entities, such as banks, mutual funds, to use the rating," said Professor Ajay Shah with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi. "A rating company should be just a research company, which has to sink or swim based on the value that it contributes to the institutional investor."

IL&FS group’s investment grade rating was based on the strength of the investors in the parent company, according to an official at a rating company. The lender’s investors include Life Insurance Corp., India’s largest life insurer; State Bank of India, its largest bank; and Housing Development Finance Corp, its largest mortgage lender. Japan’s Orix Corp. is the company’s second-largest shareholder.

India’s central bank deserves some of the blame, the person said, because it tolerated the excessive dependence on debt used for project funding in India.

Shriram Subramanian, the founder of Mumbai-based proxy advisory firm InGovern Research Services Pvt., says Indian credit analysts aren’t skeptical enough and assume wrongly that big investors will bail out companies in a jam.

"In most cases, they take into account projections given by managements which tend to be rosy," said Subramanian. "Rating companies have a role to play in rating the various securities, but they need to increase their sophistication by developing models that account for various scenarios."

Regulatory measures should be on the table, according to the head of a rating assessor. “The regulators should seriously consider mandatory rotation of the rating agency of an issuer just like the rotation of auditors," Sankar Chakraborti, chief executive officer at Acuité Ratings & Research Limited, a local ratings company. "This will allay the concern that a very long association between issuer and rating agency may allow scope for complacency.”

Credit rating firms in India’s big Asia economic rival, China are also facing increasing scrutiny as authorities look to rein in risks and foreign investors have long cited inflated ratings offered by local firms as a key reason for not buying onshore corporate notes.

While penalties had previously been restricted to discreet warnings, regulators in August banned a rating company for a year from assessing bonds. China opened the door for foreign rating companies last year. Yet so far, no international raters have set up wholly-owned units in the country.

For IL&FS, rating company ICRA, flagged the group’s “elevated leverage” in March but kept its investment grade rating because of “experienced senior management team and its significant track record of operations in the infrastructure domain.”

The company’s shareholders are scheduled to meet on Saturday to vote on increasing its authorized capital, which will start its plan to “restore normalcy,” Vice Chairman and Managing Director Hari Sankaran said in a note to employees this month.

“Certain conflicts of interest inherent in the current structure prevalent in India need to be reviewed,” said Sunil Sharma, executive director & chief investment officer at Sanctum Wealth, which manages $1 billion. “Greater disclosure and access to information needs to be mandated.”

Source: Internet Newspapers and anupsen articles


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