In our previous article The Secret World Of Indian Currency Printers we raised a serious question regarding our new banknotes being printed with the involvement of blacklisted companies who were the source of fake notes to Pakistan. Since there was no official announcement or information available on the subject we filed RTIs with the relevant departments. Now it has come to light that the same companies have been contracted to supply polymer note making technology for printing Rs.10 polymer notes for India.
As reported by The Telegraph,
The secretive Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudra Private Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the RBI, that prints notes has selected four entities – UK-based De La Rue, Australia’s Innovia, Munich-based Giesecke & Devrient and Swiss company Landquart – to supply three kinds of plastic notes.
De La Rue already supplies paper notes to India but has been rattled by the controversy over the recent Panama leaks. It has recently been contracted to supply polymer note making technology to China and plans to make pure polymer notes for India too.
Here is the official report of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU) expressing serious concern over outsourcing of printing of Indian currency notes.
The Committee is aghast to note that the RBI had outsourced the printing of notes to three foreign countries in the year 1997-98. The Committee was informed that 2000 million pieces of 100 rupee denomination and 1600 million pieces of 500 Rupee denomination of notes were outsourced for printing at (i) American Banknote Company (USA) – 635 million pieces; (ii) Thomas De La Rue, UK – 1365 million pieces (100 rupee denomination), and Giesecke & Devrient Consortium (Germany) – 1600 million pieces (500 rupee denomination), amounting to a sum of Rs. One lakh crores. On further inquiry the Committee was also given to understand that such outsourcing of the printing of notes was not done either prior to 1996 or after that. The reasons such as (a) the bad conditions of the notes and (b) the ‘soilage’ factor etc. mentioned by the representatives of the RBI are far from convincing. The RBI system of a assessment with respect to the demands of the bank notes in the country has been off the mark resulting in a gap between the demand and supply of bank notes, but this is a factor that was constant prior to and after 1996. The Committee rejects the reasons that have been forwarded for this extraordinary decision which is unprecedented.
The Committee also find it pertinent to point out that during printing of currency notes worth 1 lakh crores in three different countries, there was always a grave risk of unauthorized printing of excess currency notes, which would have been unaccounted money. The Committee simply wonder how come a decision was taken to have the currency notes printed by above mentioned companies in three different countries. Logically speaking since all the said three countries are well developed, each country certainly had the capability of undertaking the entire printing assignment. In any case the very thought of India’s currency being printed in three different countries is alarming to say the least. During that particular fateful period our entire economic sovereignty was at stake.
The Committee is concerned of the grave implications of such a move as it has wider ramifications in a multi faceted angle. The danger of destabilizing the economy by the agencies of authorities who could have misused our security parameters vis-à-vis printing of currency notes, the use of such notes which could have been printed in excess could easily have fallen in the hands of unscrupulous elements such as terrorists, extremists and other economic offenders, looms large in our minds. The Committee expresses its strong resentment over such an unprecedented, unconventional and uncalled for measure. The Committee while recommending that SPMCIL be strengthened to undertake the printing and minting of the required currency notes/coins fervently emphasise that outsourcing of printing of currency notes/minting coins should never be resorted to in the future.”
Now De la Rue is the same company whose owner Roberto Giori who controlled 90% of the world’s currency-printing business was on the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 also known as IC 814. And it is believed that a ransom was paid by the Indian Government for the safe release of Roberto Giori. This same company after being blacklisted by Indian Government lost its most valuable customer – the Reserve Bank of India and almost went bankrupt. What is most intriguing is that De la Rue that almost went bankrupt after losing RBI contracts reported a whopping 33.33% rise in its shares in the last six months and was a huge mover the day after the announcement for demonetization was made.
The question is when was the ban lifted and the companies removed from the blacklist and why? Although there has been no official announcement here is the reason given for the lifting of the ban.
“These companies are in the business for 150 years; they will not hamper their trade by passing on information of one country to another. Some of these firms even print currency notes for smaller countries. After the investigations, it was found that the two firms had not compromised the security features and the ban was lifted,” said the official.
So, now the same companies namely UK-based De La Rue and Munich-based Giesecke & Devrient who were blacklisted for supplying paper to Pakistan that is the source of all fake notes into India is being contracted again for the printing of one billion Rs.10 notes. How could the same companies that were a serious concern and banned because they posed a threat to National Security suddenly be cleared of the blacklist and given contracts in the printing our currency notes again?