Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Demonetisation hit hawala and fake currency the most

Queue at Bank to Exchange INR 500 and 1000 Notes - Salt Lake City - Kolkata 2016-11-10 02103

People standing in queue outside a private bank to deposit and exchange Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes at Salt Lake City, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

Following the demonetisation drive by the government, a lot of people who have accumulated Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes have panicked and acted in bizarre ways. Some others destroyed/burned money that they thought could not be used. Several real estate dealers, transport operators, wholesale traders and others who used to do business in cash only adapted strange ways to convert their defunct bank notes to legal tender. Here are some of the instances that I could read today.

A 60-year-old woman named Mariyumma Muhammed, a native of Kotukkara near Kondotty in Kerala’s Malappuram district, went on Saturday to the SBI branch at Kondotty with 49 currency notes of Rs 1000 denomination (Rs 49000). Finding 37 of the notes counterfeit (Rs 37,000), the SBI officials informed the police who arrested and later remanded her to judicial custody. On questioning, she said her sons working in the Gulf sent the money through Hawala channels. The money was meant for construction of a house.

According to various reports the counterfeit currency notes seized from various places in Kerala in the last few years were printed outside India. Continued and intensive checking and seizure of fake currency by the authorities only forced the operators to change their modus operandi to transport and use Indian Fake Currency Notes (FICN).

According to reports, FICN operators have widespread networks in Kerala and Karnataka and receive over Rs 50,000 crore through Hawala. Almost all the money meant for funding terrorism and other antinational activities enters India through this route.

In another case after the demonetisation drive, Sumit Kumar Tudu of Kendrapara district in Odisha was arrested by Odisha police. He went to deposit Rs 2.5 lakh in the SBI branch at Khurda town near Bhubaneswar. The bank officials found 42 fake notes of Rs 1,000 and 10 fake notes of Rs 500 totaling Rs 47,000. Deba Prasad Kanhar, the in-charge of SBI Khurda, said that they informed the police. Sumit Kumar Tudu claimed that he is the son of a bank officer and his father asked him to deposit the money in his father’s account.

In another sad case, a 48-year old man named Unni, a Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) employee, who came to deposit Rs 500,000 worth banned high denomination notes in the State Bank of Travancore in Thalassery, fell to his death from the second floor of the building.

Interestingly, within days of introduction of the new Rs. 2,000 note, Ashok, an onion grower in Chikkamagaluru in Karnataka, was cheated by a stranger with a photocopy of the note on Saturday morning, which he came to know only when his friends told him later.

The new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes are considered "high security" notes having several new security features and cannot be easily counterfeited compared to the now invalid notes.

As a result of demonetization, the Hawala racketeers in Mumbai have taken the worst hit and no transaction is likely to take place in the near future. Business circles in Mumbai fear it will pull down businesses that are accused of heavily depended on such illegal money.

Banks in the country received 3 trillion rupees ($44.4 billion) in the in the first four days after the government’s move to ban high denomination notes on November 8, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Sunday directed all banks to submit daily reports of cash withdrawals across the counter and through ATMs in order to compile accurate data of currency circulation.

That finally comes to drying up of all the resources of fake currency notes and money in the illegal money transfer circuit, at least for now. Also, a lot of money that avoided the banking route will now get deposited and there will be a huge churning in the entire Indian economy. Of course, there are difficulties being faced by the common people, but I think it help in the long run.

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