The management of Amanath Cooperative Bank Ltd., which has been besieged by anxious depositors who want their money back, on Tuesday assured depositors that they would have their money after the bank auctions two of its immovable properties in the city. But there is a catch: the properties identified to be put under the hammer are under litigation.

The promise to return the depositors their money was made by Chairman of the Bank Naseer Ahmed who was mobbed by several anxious depositors on the bank premises. Thousands of depositors have staged protests against the Bank management after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) imposed restrictions on withdrawals following the build-up of non-performing assets (NPA) totalling Rs. 66 crore. As a result of the RBI stipulation, accountholders cannot withdraw more than Rs. 1,000 within a period of six months.

Mr. Ahmed told the concerned accountholders that the bank would auction land belonging to it on Bannerghatta Road and in HSR Layout within 45 days to tide over the crisis. However, reliable sources in the bank told The Hindu that “the plot of land proposed to be auctioned is under litigation and cannot be disposed of soon”. Also, slums have come up on the eight acres of land on Bannerghatta Road. Moreover, informed sources say that RBI permission is required before the bank can sell the property. When The Hindu posed this query to Mr. Ahmed, he did not deny that the land was under litigation. But, he said, it would be auctioned in “as is where is condition”. However, such a sale would amount to a distress sale, which implies the bank would incur losses.

Mr. Ahmed said the bank was hoping to raise Rs. 100 crore by auctioning the land, and the proceeds would be used to settle the bad loans on the bank’s books. Once the RBI restrictions were removed, the depositors’ money would also be de-freezed, he contended.