UPDATE 1-India's ICICI Bank suspends 18 in money-laundering probe

Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:19am GMT

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(Adds comments from HDFC Bank, Axis Bank)

MUMBAI, March 16 (Reuters) - ICICI Bank Ltd, India's No. 2 lender, has suspended 18 employees pending an inquiry into suspected money laundering, the bank said in a statement on Saturday.

The move comes after a report by an independent journalist who said on Thursday he had video footage of some branch employees of ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank Ltd and Axis Bank Ltd suggesting to an undercover reporter methods of laundering money.

HDFC Bank said it would appoint audit firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt Ltd to carry out an independent forensic inquiry.

The bank also appointed Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co to examine whether there had been any breaches of the bank's code of conduct.

Axis Bank said an internal inquiry was already under way.

India's finance ministry and central bank are also investigating allegations of money laundering at the top private sector lenders. (Reporting by Swati Pandey and Kaustubh Kulkarni; Editing by Nick Macfie)