Fake currency racket: panic grips SBI account holders

August 7th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajat Rai
Domariyaganj (Uttar Pradesh), Aug 7 (IANS) Panic gripped the account holders of the Domariyaganj branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district Thursday after a cashier admitted to the police that he had exchanged fake notes of denominational value of Rs.15 million with original ones. The cashier of the currency chest of the bank, Sudhakar Tripathi, has admitted to the scam even as investigations revealed that he would also lend money to people in the area.

A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) team, which raided the branch Monday, has so far recovered fake notes with a denominational value of Rs.7 million and the scanning was still in progress, the officials said.

It is suspected that the recovery may further rise to Rs.20 million after the sorting process is over.

With a daily cash withdrawal of about Rs.4 million from the only ATM of the bank in the town, withdrawal has increased by nearly 50 percent after the racket was exposed, bank sources informed.

“It is better to withdraw the money and keep it in the house rather than incurring losses,” Abdur Rehman, a customer waiting outside the ATM, said.

One of his relatives lives in Saudi Arabia and regularly keeps sending money, he added.

And with no other bank providing such facility in this small suburb, which has a large number of inhabitants working in the Middle East countries, cash withdrawal is the only option left.

The SBI is the only bank providing core banking facility and has the only ATM in the entire region because of the absence of any private bank in Domariyaganj or Siddharthnagar district.

Bank manager Dashrath Chirgainya accepted the increased pressure. “However, we are coping and are catering to the requirement effectively,” Chirgainya told IANS.

According to bank sources, it has approximately 1 million customers.

It was also revealed that Tripathi used to lend bank money on interest without any official record.

“However, we have received no written complaint about this and we have learnt it during our investigation,” a police source said.

However, a ‘beneficiary’, on conditions of anonymity, revealed that Tripathi used to release their salary in advance in lieu of a small amount.

“My salary is Rs.10,000 and it comes through the bank. He used to take a post-dated cheque of the same amount and give me Rs.9,500 and the rest was his service charge,” he said.

“About 1,000 of my colleagues used to take this service regularly,” he claimed.

Besides, Tripathi also used to give “short term” and “long term” loans to businessmen, petty farmers and others here and in neighbouring suburbs.

According to police sources, about Rs.1 million is currently in circulation and the entire business was run by him on a “personal” level.

“However, this kind of cash used to remain in circulation for a very short period and the amount was deposited back in the bank before it could get highlighted in the ledger,” a police source added.

Interrogating cops admitted that the remand time of nine hours granted by the courts was too short and Tripathi will need to be taken on police remand yet again.

“We have gathered some vital clues after his interrogation and some more arrests are expected in this connection,” additional superintendent of police Rakesh Shanker said.

More revelations are expected once the RBI completes the scrutiny of the currency notes and interrogation of the cashier, he added.

Meanwhile, the state government has handed over the investigation in the case to the Special Investigation Team.

“As SIT specialises in cracking such cases, we decided to hand over the investigation to it,” Principal Secretary (Home) Mahesh Gupta told reporters Thursday at a press briefing in Lucknow.

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