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Tracing serial numbers: How PM plans to hunt down rogue bank managers

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The common link between most of the seizures of new currency notes across India has been an errant bank manager often willing to help out select clients by providing them with new notes beyond the conversion limit set by the government. Rogue bank managers across India have also helped influential and wealthy people convert their undeclared wealth into new currency. This even as millions of honest Indians stand in serpentine queues only to be turned away by banks claiming to have run out of cash. The involvement of bank managers came to the fore during raids on Chennai-based miner Shekhar Reddy, Delhi-based lawyer Rohit Tandon and Kolkata-based businessman Paras Lodha. The Enforcement Directorate has also found out that four banks had allegedly helped legalise Rs 150 crore in unaccounted money across the country.

Sources have revealed that in addition to arrests of bank officials, including those of the RBI already made, investigators have fast tracked the process of swooping in on more. Investigators have recorded the serial numbers of all seized notes which will now be tallied with the records maintained at the currency chests and link branches of various banks across the country.

Bank sources say that there is a procedure in place to identify notes at the originating bank. Ideally, the RBI issues fresh currency to banks with currency chests after receiving indents from their respective link offices. The boxes containing parcels of the money are then sent to respective currency chests through an RBI representative referred to as the Potdar. The parcels are counted without opening the polythene packing in presence of the Potdar and the escort party which comprises a policeman and other staff. Once the parcels are weighed, checked for damage, the police escort is relieved after he puts his signatures on the invoice. The counting of currency is then done at the rate of 3 lakh notes every day in presence of the Potdar. Once the counting is completed at the chest, a fax is immediately sent to the RBI confirming the receipt. After the Potdar leaves, all cash operations involving sorting and weighing of currency are recorded on CCTV. These CCTV recordings are meant to be preserved for a minimum of 90 days by the respective currency chests. Each currency chest is equipped with the following: ultra violet lamps, weighing machines, dual display counting machines, shrink wrapping and note sorting machines.

Before the Potdar leaves, the currency chest branches complete a statement that has the following details: date of receipt of the money, pieces and value of the currency received, date of examination, number of notes examined during the day and the reasons (if any) for not examining any of the notes.

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