Srinagar: The 10-month period of imposed idleness for ace banker Zubair Iqbal ended on Wednesday when the JK government appointed him as chief financial consultant in the Finance Department for a period of one year.
The order came immediately after the government withdrew Zubair’s nomination from the Board of Directors of Jammu and Kashmir Bank on Wednesday, which paved the way for this compensatory appointment.
Iqbal was selected by a committee from among 37 contestants for the lead role in the J&K Bank. In the next 90 days, as per RBI norms, he was supposed to be in office. However, after joining the bank for 10 days, he was reportedly asked by the Finance Department to wait till the RBI cleared his name. The RBI kept delaying his approval for unknown reasons although he met all the requirements set by the regulator. The people privy to this development alleged that he became victim of “regional divide”.
Iqbal’s appointment as the first full-fledged Managing Director of J&K Bank was made after a rigorous process of selection overseen by a high-level 3-member committee under chairmanship of Mr Tapan Ray, former Union Corporate Affairs Secretary. The other committee members were Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Financial Commissioner, J&K, and Mr Anand Madhukar, OSD in Dept of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, GoI.
At the time of his appointment, he was vice-president at HDFC Bank. Zubair had quit as JK Bank’s marketing manager when he had first joined HDFC Bank, as branch manager. When he left HDFC Bank, it had over 70 branches in Jammu and Kashmir.
Iqbal was chosen to head the J&K Bank at a time when the bank’s report for FY 2019-20 reported a loss of Rs 1,100 crore. Much of this was due to the government’s actions, as the Kashmir economy was mostly shut for several months due to the lockdown imposed after abrogation of Article 370 in the first week of August 2019.
Jammu and Kashmir Bank’s overseas shareholder Sanjeev Arora had recently raised serious questions over the integrity and leadership of the bank.
Analysts believe that given an opportunity, Iqbal would have significantly contributed to the revival of J&K Bank – a strategically important economic institution of the UT. Iqbal has many accolades to his credit both at international and national level and is known for his professionalism, business acumen, and leadership qualities.