Fake currency scam: Cashier admits to exchanging fake notes with real (Lead)

August 7th, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Aug 7(IANS) Sudhakar Tripathi, a cashier of the State Bank of India (SBI) branch at Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, has admitted to the police that he had exchanged fake currency notes worth Rs.15 million with the original ones, sources said Thursday. The police probing the recovery of fake currency notes in the SBI branch had taken Tripathi into remand for further questioning.

A team of the Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CBCID) has already visited the branch, sources said.

Significantly, though the currency chest has a sorting machine to check the quality of the notes, the fake currency racket was unearthed only after the arrest of Tripathi on July 29.

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

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

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 Tripathi, from whose residence we recovered 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.

Bank manager Dashrath Cirgainya said the currency 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 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, SBI chief general manager (Uttar Pradesh) Shiv Kumar said they had not yet received any complaint from customers of the Domariyaganj branch regarding any fake currency they might have received from the branch.

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

“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 compared to last year. While fake currency worth Rs.6.7 million was recovered in the state in 2007, the figure has already touched RS.20 million this year so far, police officials said.

Sensing the possibility that the scam might have its roots outside India, the state police has initiated proceedings to recommend a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the scam, sources at the police headquarters here said.

Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal had referred two cases reported from Aligarh and Malda, respectively, to the CBI. “Both cases were cracked in December last year 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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