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Fake currency: 'RBI, banks in denial mode'

September 10, 2009 10:45 IST

Some observers believe counterfeit currency worth Rs 169,000 crores (Rs 169 trillion) is in circulation in the country.

Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence directorate is allegedly a key player in this menace, thwarting attempts by Indian security agencies to crack down on the racket.

Former Central Bureau of Investigation director Joginder Singh tells rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa how the security agencies could tackle the fake currency phenomenon.

Do you think India is doing enough to curb the threat of counterfeit currency?

It is not enough at all. More should be done to eradicate the danger.

What should be done in your opinion?

First, the approach has to change. The government, banks and the Reserve Bank of India are all in denial mode when dealing with the issue. That attitude has to change.

The problem is immense and threatens the economy. Instead of remaining in denial, the agencies should wake up, accept the problem and act.

What should the RBI do?

They need to first accept the problem. Only then will they be able to solve it. The RBI obviously gets to know when an entire series of currency notes has been faked. I fail to understand why they continue with the series despite it being faked.

The RBI should immediately withdraw the series once such things happen. That solves the problem to a great extent.

What should banks do?

What we have been noticing is that once a customer reports fake currency, the bank immediately destroys the note and there ends the matter. First, the banks ought to file a police complaint.

Let me tell you about a case where a man drew his salary from an ATM. It was only later that he realised all the notes were counterfeit. Banks should introduce testing machines at ATMs so that the customer can immediately report the problem.

What can the police do?

They should stop torturing the person who reports the crime. All police units of the respective states ought to follow the Bengaluru module where there are separate units for law and order and crime. The crime wing of the police should handle this matter.

I feel that special training ought to be imparted to officers and two constables should be put on duty only to tackle this problem.

What about the government?

I fail to understand why we can't manufacture ink and paper to make currency. It is still being imported and this gives criminals an edge.

If we manufacture our own ink and paper, then we will be in control of the situation and can enhance our security features.

Besides, it is time the government accepted that we face a serious problem.

Could you provide a set of guidelines to tackle the issue?

The law must be changed to protect those who complain about the problem. Agencies should get out of denial mode.

The Intelligence Bureau says the ISI imports paper from London to fake currency notes. Can't we seek help from the United Kingdom?

It is difficult. Why would they help us? For them, it is a business. We have to find our own means to tackle our issues.

Fake currency is directly connected to terrorism.

It is connected to terrorism. To wipe out terrorism, we first need to stop pleading with the United States of America. India should realise that they will not bother about us.

Giving the army blanket powers to deal with the problem is the only way to solve this problem.

Can Interpol's help be sought?

Again, there is no point in asking Interpol. Interpol is basically a group of police officers.

If we seek Pakistan's help, then we will be dealing with their Interpol chief who is also the chief of the FIA (Federal Intelligence Agency). Do you expect anything from him?

Also read Vicky Nanjappa's special: How ISI masterminds fake currency racket in India