As deadline for NRIs nears, rackets rack up

With the March 31 deadline for Non-Resident Indians to exchange demonetised currency notes approaching, there has been a sudden spurt in illegal currency exchange rackets in the city. In the last week alone, Central Crime Branch officials cracked down on three scams, arrested seven people and seized ₹8 crore from people attempting to exchange their hoarded cache of old ₹1,000 and ₹500 notes.

The arrested were either trying to rope in NRIs or use chartered accountants to get rid of their old currency, a senior police officer said.

In the most recent case, CCB officials on Tuesday arrested a 46-year-old man on Bull Temple Road, Shankarapuram, who was carrying old notes worth ₹3 crore. The accused, Nanjunada Malegowda, 46, a resident of Shantinagar, was waiting for his contact to exchange the old notes.

The police suspect that he was not working alone but is part of a currency exchange ring. “We have seized a mobile phone from him and efforts are on to track down his associates,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) S. Ravi.

Caught in the act

In a similar case, CCB officials on Monday — acting on a tip-off — arrested three people for carrying unaccounted money worth ₹1.9 crore in old notes. They were caught with the money in a car near Bhashyam Circle in Rajajinagar and were allegedly waiting for their contact to hand over the cash. “We have been getting more tip-offs with the deadline approaching,” a senior police officer said.

According to the officer, all the seven arrested are mostly connected to the real estate business or work as agents for a third party. Touts approach NRIs and chartered accountants in the city with a commission to exchange old denomination notes.

CCB officials feel that there is still a large amount of unaccounted cash stashed in the city, which people are desperate to offload. However, since the deadline for currency exchange is fast approaching, a few are taking chances and making last-ditch efforts to do so.

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