MUMBAI: Crores of people may still be spending hours queuing up before banks to withdraw their few thousands, but for a few, exchanging their crores don’t require breaking a sweat.
Illegal exchange of demonetised currency notes is rampant and the people involved in the trade say they have agents across the country who can get you the newly minted notes in a matter of hours. The commission they take, of course, is steep.
ET spoke to a number of people in the trade of exchanging old notes with new. “If you have Rs 1 crore in cash, we can exchange it in one hour, anywhere in the country,” said Jiten, one of the people claimed to have been involved in the trade. “Of course, you would have to pay a commission.”
Jiten said he can exchange up to Rs 5 crore a day — but with a condition. “You have to be referred to us by someone who has already exchanged the money,” he said.
The commission is currently 10%. That is, if you exchange Rs 1 crore of old notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500, you will have to forgo Rs 10 lakh.
Jiten is just a cog in what is a large wheel, said people in the trade and those who know about it. There are many people active in several parts of the country, and in many cases, fingers are being pointed at bankers for supplying them with new notes.
While banks are claiming that they are being unfairly targeted, those in the trade laugh it off, saying that managers to cashiers at many bank branches, both private and state-run, are part of the racket. There have been several cases where bankers have been booked for diverting funds and laundering black money for private gains.
What is worrisome is not just the easy manner in which the new notes are being exchanged illegally, but also the deep inroads the black money exchangers have made into the system.
Samrat, another person dealing in illegal exchange of currency, said there was a long chain involved, and that included bank employees.
“Look, it’s not just one bank or branch, or one state from which we are getting the new currency,” Samrat told ET. “If you thought that this money is just coming from private banks, then again you are mistaken.
Even people from government banks are involved in this trade. How will we get the new currency otherwise?” He refused to reveal the cut that go to the bank staff involved in such rackets, saying: “I am not aware of how much they get paid.” As the deadline to deposit the demonetised notes draw closer, Samrat expects more people to line up seeking their service, as well as the commission to increase. “We expect the 10% commission to go up to 13%, which could be the minimum.”