The Banking Ombudsman or Mohtasib has been established to entertain complaints from customers, borrowers, banks or from any concerned body or organization. For this purpose this institution has been given certain powers and responsibilities by virtue of applicable law. The Banking Mohtasib is an independent institution established under Part IV A, Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962.
Complaints That can be Made to the Banking Mohtasib in Pakistan
In relation to all banks operating in Pakistan, the Banking Mohtasib has been empowered to entertain complaints of the following nature:
Complaints Against Private Banks in Pakistan
- Failure to act in accordance with banking laws and regulations including policy directives or guidelines issued by the State Bank of Pakistan from time to time.
- Delays or fraud in relation to the payment or collection of cheques, drafts or other banking instruments or transfer of funds.
- Fraudulent or unauthorized withdrawals or debit entries in accounts.
- Complaints from exporters or importers, relating to banking services and obligations including letters of credit.
- Complaints from holders of foreign currency accounts whether maintained by residents or non-residents.
- Complaints relating to remittances to or from abroad
- Complaints relating to payment of utility bills
- Complaints relating to markup/interest rates because of the violation of an agreement/State Bank directive.
Complaints Against Public Banks in Pakistan
In respect of public sector banks, the Banking Mohtasib would in addition to the above mentioned, entertain complaints pertaining to:
- Corruption or malafide practices by bank officers
- Gross neglect of duties in dealing with customers
- Delays in taking decisions
Banking Mohtasib has been given adequate powers to call for such information as would be relevant for the disposal of complaints provided confidentiality is not compromised.
Advantages of Approaching the Banking Mohtasib
Approaching the Banking Mohtasib is advantageous for the following reasons:
- Accessible, friendly and flexible
- Unlike the courts, formal legal representation is not required.
- Complainants retain the right to take the matter to court if not satisfied
- A cost free service for both complainants and banks
- Hence cost effective
Matters Outside the Scope of Banking Mohtasib in Pakistan
Following are cases in which Banking Mohtasib cannot intervene:
- To give directions that loans and advances be extended to a complainant.
- To consider a complaint against a bank’s
- Loan mark-up policies
- Risk policies
- Pricing of products and services (schedule of charges)
- Any other policy matter relating to a bank policy
- A matter being adequately dealt by a court of law or a sub-judice matter
- Complaints of bank employees pertaining to their terms and conditions of service.
How to File a Complaint to the Banking Mohtasib
Filing complaints is easy. Following is the procedure for the filing of the complaints:
- Approach your bank in writing to resolve your complaint stating in the letter that you intend to refer the grievance to the Banking Mohtasib if matter not resolved to your satisfaction. The bank is allowed a maximum of 45 days to resolve your complaint
- If you do not receive a reply from bank within three months, or find the reply unsatisfactory, you may file a complaint with the Banking Mohtasib on the prescribed complaint form. Form specimen is available at the end of this regulatory procedure (Forms are available at Banking Mohtasib’s Website and at all Banks’ branches.)
- The complaint form duly completed, signed and attested by an Oath Commissioner should be attached to your letter of complaint addressed to the Banking Mohtasib and sent to:
Banking Mohtasib Pakistan Secretariat
5th Floor, Shaheen Complex M R Kiyani Road Karachi
- Please make sure that all related correspondence with the bank along with an attested photocopy of the complainants ID card and copies of all relevant documents are also sent to the Banking Mohtasib. Please do not send original documents.
Investigation on Complaints
The Banking Mohtasib may adopt the procedure, as he considers appropriate in investigating a complaint.
After a complaint has been lodged, the office of Banking Mohtasib may call for additional information from the complainant in order to better understand the issue. Where needed, a representative of office of Banking Mohtasib may visit the bank to examine its books, procedures and processes etc. relating to the complaint. If necessary, the representative may invite the complainant for discussions at office. This process may lead to the following outcome:
- Complaint may be found to be unjustified: In such a case, complainant is informed accordingly and the case is closed.
- Complaint may be found to be genuine: In such a case, the Mohtasib office will try to resolve the matter cordially between both the parties through mediation. If the matter cannot be resolved amicably, the Banking Mohtasib shall pass an order directing the bank to rectify the issue in accordance with his directions
The office of the Banking Mohtasib tries to resolve most complaints within two months. However, depending on complexity, some complaints could take longer to be resolved.
The complainant has the right of appeal against the decisions made by the Banking Mohtasib. The Complainant/Banks may file an appeal within 30 days from the order of the Banking Mohtasib to the State Bank of Pakistan, if they are not satisfied with the decision. In case the Complainant or the Bank do not choose to go into appeal or does not accept the decision of the State Bank of Pakistan in appeal, they reserve the right to go to a court of law.
Alternatively, with reference to the above, a party aggrieved by the findings and recommendations of the Banking Mohtasib, may file a representation directly to the President within 30 days of such findings/recommendations. Such a representation shall be decided within 90 days.