Currency racket: bank had sorting machine to track fake money (Lead)

August 6th, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Aug 6 (IANS) Despite having a sorting machine to check the quality of the notes in its currency chest, the fake currency racket in Uttar Pradesh’s Domariyaganj branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) was unearthed only after the arrest of its cashier. A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) team, that raided the branch Monday has to date recovered fake currency with a nominal value of Rs. 6.6 million. The scanning is still in progress, officials said.

“Had the RBI undertaken periodic inspections, the supply of fake currency notes could have been detected earlier,” a bank source claimed.

The scam came to light when the Special Task Force (STF) of the state police arrested four people in possession of fake currency notes in Domariyaganj town of Sidharthnagar district last week.

“Sustained interrogation of Abid Sheikh alias Pundit, who was among those arrested, gave us leads to cashier Tripathi, from whose residence we discovered Rs.700,000 in cash,” additional director general of police Brij Lal told IANS.

However, the police found only Rs.5,000 of that amount to be fake.

Police officials fear a fake currency racket worth Rs.500 million might be thriving in regions of Uttar pradesh bordering Nepal.

According to bank officials, it will take another 15 to 20 days for the RBI team to scan the currency chest because of the huge amount it holds.

Bank manager Dashrath Cirgainya said the chest had about Rs.1.84 billion and the bank branch supplies cash to smaller branches of the district and neighbouring districts.

“A case was lodged against arrested bank cashier Sudhakar Tripathi by Cirgainya Monday,” Shamsher Bahadur Singh of the Domariyaganj police station told IANS.

The bank officials have been asked to lodge a final complaint once their scanning process is over, he added.

Meanwhile, chief general manager of the SBI, Uttar Pradesh, Shiv Kumar, claimed that they have not yet received any complaint from the customers of the Domariyaganj branch regarding the supply of fake currency notes from the branch.

However, when asked how the arrested cashier was allowed to stay in the same branch for most of his career, Kumar did not reply.

Police officials claimed that last year in March they urged the RBI to inspect banks located along the Indo-Nepal border following an increase in fake currency seizure cases.

“I had written the first letter to the RBI on March 29 last year and sent yet another letter after the arrest of the cashier,” Lal claimed.

The statistics of the Uttar Pradesh police indicate an alarming rise in fake currency recoveries as compared to last year. Fake currency worth Rs. 6.7 million was recovered in the state in 2007 but this year the figure has already touched RS.20 million and is expected to rise, source said.

Sensing the possibility that the scam might have its roots in neighbouring Nepal, the state police has initiated proceedings to recommend the scam for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe, sources at the police headquarters informed.

Earlier, the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal had referred two such cases that were reported from Aligarh and Maldah respectively. “Both the cases were cracked last year in December and those arrested were members of the same gang, involved in pumping fake currency from Bangladesh and Nepal,” a police officer recalled.

“Abdul Rehman and Inam Ilahi, who were arrested by us from Ghaziabad last December, revealed they used to receive directions from two persons in Pakistan. After this, they collected the fake notes from a Nepal national from near the border,” an STF official said.

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