Millions of people have been queueing up outside ATMs and banks for more than a month now after demonetisation was announced on November 8 this year. Despite the huge inconvenience faced by the common public, cash leaks have not stopped and several have managed to get their hands on huge caches of new currency notes of ₹500 and ₹2,000 as the rest of the country waits desperately for petty cash. Several cases have emerged in the past few days which have raised questions about the manner in which the post-demonetisation process is being executed. Also, the cash leaks appear to be coming out of banks, many private ones for that matter. So the mismanagement from the government’s side is not the only reason the people are struggling. Several bank employees have been found to be contributing to people’s problems as well.
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Sleuths raided an Axis Bank Branch in Delhi recently where around ₹100 crore was stashed in 44 bank accounts without mandatory KYC checks. In another branch of the same bank, two bank managers were arrested with gold slabs in relation to their alleged money laundering activities. Enforcement Directorate filed a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and found that massive amounts of money was being transferred through RTGS channels to various shell firms. One of the directors of a firm turned out to be a labourer.
Two officials of an HDFC branch in Gurugram were arrested for illegally converting demonetised notes and thereby illegally exhausting the new currency in the bank. Similar cases of illegal note exchange and other discrepancies were found in an HDFC branch in Chandigarh, Oriental Bank of Commerce Branch in Punjab and a Syndicate Bank branch in Hyderabad.
ED and IT sleuths have nabbed many people across the country who are assisting in money laundering and illegal currency exchange. When a person cannot, by law, gain access to more than ₹96,000 of their money from a single bank account in a month, in just over a month people have been caught with tens of lakhs of rupees, some even with crores.
Apart from the reported cases of discrepancies, any person who has stood in line would have heard conversations about people alleging bank officials telling them that they are out of cash.This is followed usually by ‘some people get special treatment and are given cash in front of us’.
The situation is such that people have to now line up a day earlier at a bank and take a token to line up again in the following day’s queue. ATMs appear to be perpetually out of order and therefore people seem to have lost hope of finding money in them. In sporadic incidents, some people are lucky to get cash the moment it is filled in the ATM. Some are lucky to get cash from ATMs in their office buildings.
But, the common man is not stranger to these problems. Almost all of us have faced these issues in one way or the other. What irks us is that cash leaks are making the already tough times more difficult for us when each rupee in hand is treated by everyone as precious.