Currency switch kicks off black money scam at RTO, excise department

Anti Corruption Bureau says RTO and Excise department officials are exchanging their old black currency with new notes from departments' daily collections

Babus using your cash to convert black to white
Representational image

Ingenious Indians will always find a way around every rule in the book. In the current currency chaos, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has discovered that babus and staff at the State Excise department and Regional Transport Office (RTOs) are surreptitiously trying to exchange their old, ill-gotten currency with new notes at their offices while conducting their daily business in order to avoid facing uncomfortable questions at banks.

The State Excise department and RTO are among those government departments that have daily monetary dealings with citizens. The excise department collects money for new permits, renewals, penalties and fines, while the RTO collects it for issuing licences, renewals, transfers, permits and other works. The daily collection at RTOs is around Rs. 5 crore.

Sources in the anti-graft agency said they have received information that the officers and staff at these two departments were using in-house funds to convert their illegitimate earnings.

All government offices that have daily monetary transactions have been instructed to accept old currency. Now, with flow of new currency being normalised, government offices have started getting new notes. Grabbing the opportunity, personnel at these two departments have started exchanging their old currency with the new ones and in smaller denominations of Rs. 100, Rs. 50 and Rs. 10.

The ACB suspects that the money is unaccounted for and generated through illegitimate means. "Though the amount of funds involved is not very large, but because it has been occurring every day, it's a cause for concern," said a senior official. It has been observed that other government departm ents that have daily cash transactions are also indulging in such malpractice. Bank staff, loan sharks and money lenders have used this opportunity and influence with bank managers to convert their black money, officials said.

Old notes? You bet!
ACB sources said many bookies at Mahalaxmi Racecourse are accepting old notes for betting. "These are bookies who run 'dabba' betting schemes, a term coined for those who run unauthorised betting schemes at the racecourse. Weekends are big days for betting. Acting on the information that a large amount of black money for betting transactions had been brought to the racecourse, the ACB carried out searches at the place on Saturday, but the bookies managed to flee with the money," a senior ACB officer said

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