Fake currency keeps tumbling out of bank chest

August 6th, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Aug 6 (IANS) A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) team scanning the currency chest of the State Bank of India (SBI) branch at Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, found additional fake currency notes amounting to Rs.4.6 million, officials said Wednesday. Earlier on Monday, when the team raided the bank in Siddharthnagar district, it found fake currency nominally worth Rs.2 million.

Cash for all branches of the bank in the region is distributed from this chest.

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

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

According to bank sources, 20 bundles of Rs.1,000 currency notes, recovered on Monday, were found to be carrying the same serial number (5 CK 756601).

“The fresh recovery consists of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes and a majority of them bear same serial numbers,” a bank official informed.

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

A bank source said: “It will take at least 15 to 20 days to verify the authenticity of all the currency notes in the bank’s currency chest.”

During the raid, the team also found a sum of about Rs.7 million missing from the bank’s chest.

Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal said: “This racket has been thriving with the connivance of the bank staff, who were clearly found to be involved in clandestine replacement of notes with fake currency.”

“This was the first time that a public sector bank was found to have been used to systematically push counterfeit currency into the open market,” he said.

Bank manager 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.

Bank sources added that about 80 percent of the currency notes are yet to be counted and verified.

“The bank transacts around Rs.10 million a day,” he said.

About Rs.4 million is also withdrawn daily from the ATMs of the bank throughout the city, he added.

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

“A draft has been prepared and it is being sent to the state government,” the source added.

The scam came to light with the arrest of four people in possession of fake currency notes in Domariyaganj town.

“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,” Lal told IANS.

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

Tripathi, who started his career in 1974, has been working with this branch for most of his career.

The police, after Tripathi’s arrest, urged senior RBI officials to scan the currency chests of different banks, particularly in the towns bordering Nepal.

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