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Bankers helped transport hawala cash during polls: DMK leader

By Gireesh Babu
June 13, 2016 15:13 IST
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T K S Elangovan alleges bank officials forged documents and faked authorisation from the RBI to transport huge sums of hawala money during the recent elections.
Gireesh Babu reports from Chennai.

A Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader has alleged senior bank officials forged documents and faked authorisation from the Reserve Bank of India to transport huge sums of hawala money during recent elections in the state.

The State Bank of India is responsible for the transportation. The country's largest lender has, however, repeatedly said the Rs 570 crore (Rs 5.7 billion) detained by the Election Commission in three containers in Tirupur during the assembly elections was a transaction from one of its currency chests to another.

In a petition filed in the Madras high court, T K S Elangovan, MP and press relations secretary of the DMK, alleged the documents related to the money transfer were fake and urged the court to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident.

According to reports, the court on , June 9,Thursday ordered the CBI to look into the issue and file a status report in two weeks.

In a statement, SBI said: 'We reiterate that we have clarified the position earlier that the treasure is the property of the RBI and remittance has been sent as per RBI directives. As the matter is sub judice, at this stage we have no comments to offer.'

Earlier, in litigation related to the detention of the money, the RBI had told the court the money belonged to it and was being handled by the SBI with its permission.

'RBI Chennai had not given any such direction for cash remittances of Rs 570 crore,' the DMK leader alleged. Transportation of so much money by road at night, he said, was not in accordance with RBI guidelines. Former additional solicitor general of India and senior counsel P Wilson appeared for the petitioner.

'Whenever huge monies are to be transported between the chests... it has to be done through rail, escorted by the local police. No such steps have been undertaken in the instant case. Serious doubts arise about the genuineness of the belated claims of the SBI officials over the said Rs 570 crore,' the petitioner alleged.

The SBI had clarified: 'As there is a temporary cash shortage in the currency chests across Andhra Pradesh, a specific remittance was authorised by RBI (both at Hyderabad and Chennai) in accordance with their cash management policy. Movement of large sums of money is a regular activity between currency chests of a bank. Every time such movements happen, appropriate documents are secured. Like always, this time too, all necessary documents were in place.'

The transaction involving three containers without any proper documentation and in vehicles bearing bogus registration numbers besides false letters by SBI claiming to have obtained permission from RBI Chennai showed the money was used for hawala transactions, the petition alleged.

'Bank officials have conspired and created forged documents with fake authorisation from RBI Chennai in order to transport the hawala money. Not only offences under the Indian Penal Code are attracted but also offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act are attracted,' alleged the petitioner, saying the CBI alone had jurisdiction to register the complaint and take action in accordance with the law.

The Election Commission's surveillance team had detained three trucks with containers carrying cash two days before polling on May 16 at Uthukuli taluk in Tirupur district.

The trucks were detained in the office of the district collector. SBI claimed the money and said it was a currency transaction from its currency chest in Coimbatore to another currency chest in Visakhapatnam with RBI approval.

The DMK, which alleged the detained containers were part of money transferred by a person who had connections with ministers of the Tamil Nadu government, last month wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others seeking an investigation by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate into the matter.

Image only published for representational purposes.

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