The labyrinth of fake currency

By K.N. Pandita

Early this week, national newspapers published a small story about the Special Operation Group nabbing a Kashmiri cloth merchant at Jammu Railway Station carrying fake Indian currency worth 7 lakh rupees transmitted through hawala. The Daily Excelsior came out with an editorial “Tighten the noose” in which it threw some subtle hints but no elucidation about tantalizing backdrop story of faking Indian currency.  

Pakistan’s involvement in the production and circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) has long been established. The NIA reconfirmed Pakistan’s role after it arrested two persons on March 28, 2012, along with FICN amounting to INR 985,000 being smuggled into India by Pakistan-based FICN dealer Iqbal Kana, of Kairana Tehsil in Muzaffarnagar District of Uttar Pradesh but operating from Pakistan. Noting the very high quality of duplication exhibited in the FICN seized at Taliparamba, Kerala, on September 18, 2011, the NIA stated before the Kerala High Court, on February 14, 2012, that the involvement of a state (Pakistan)-sponsored racket was a certainty. Sources disclosed that an ISI officer, Aslam Chaudhary, was understood to be the ISI point man handling the printing of FICN in Quetta, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.

Two Nepali counterfeit currency traffickers revealed to the Thai police the modus operandi of the ISI saying that Pakistani diplomats were caught distributing fake Indian currency notes. One Naushad Alam Khan, arrested in Dhaka on April 24, 2008, with fake Indian currency notes worth Rs 50 lakh admitted his direct link with HuJI (Bangladesh) chief Mufti Abdul Hannan. It was found that both Khan and Hannan had fought for Taliban in Afghanistan.

Can Pakistan actually print fake Indian currency? It can’t, unless supplied with inks, printing machines and security paper by government regulated companies. Then how it is happening?

Curiously, the story of first attempt to reveal international conspiracy of faking notes was published in 1983 by an American author, Terry Bloom, (The Brotherhood of Money: The Secret World of Banknote Printers). Shocking as it is, the entire edition of that book was bought up straight from the printing presses  by two prominent representatives of the industry to prevent the public from getting an inside view of the business. Bloom’s book is impossible to find today.

Most of the twelve established companies in currency printing business operate from the EU. The four major segments are: paper (Arjo Wiggins, Crane & Co.etc.), printing presses (KBA-Giori S.A), note accessories like the security thread, holograms, etc. (Giesecke & Devrient) and lastly inks (e.g. SICPA). Then there are integrators (like Orell Füssli, etc.) who provide total, end-to-end currency printing services.

Something of our interest may be said about the person/company in the business of currency printing at No. 2 above, viz. KBA-Giori.  One day in 1997, a gentleman called up a courier office in Hyderabad (India) and introduced himself as H.K Advani (brother of LK Advani). He was (supposed) to be representing the Swiss company De La Rue (before it was merged to become KBA Giori). He was checking with the status of a quotation from De La Rue for the Hyderabad Mint modernization.

In 1997, one of India’s non-British mints, the Hyderabad Mint was moved from the old premises to a new complex. Tenders were floated for equipment for the modernization of this mint. Some two years later, on 24th December, 1999 Kashmiri terrorists hijacked IC 814 originating in Kathmandu. It was brought to Kandahar in Taliban Afghanistan. Terrorists demanded US$200 million.

Time-Asia reported that one of the hostages sitting in economy class could have effortlessly written them a check for that amount. Roberto Giori, owner of the Lausanne (Switzerland)-based company De La Rue Giori, boarded Flight 814 after a holiday in Katmandu with his companion Cristina Calabresi. De La Rue Giori, which Giori inherited from his father, happens to control 90% of the world’s currency-printing business. The 50-year-old Giori, who holds dual Swiss and Italian nationality, is one of Switzerland’s richest men.

Switzerland sent a special interlocutor to Kandahar airport to deal with the abduction of its “currency king,” his companion and two other Swiss nationals. It also put pressure on New Delhi to come to a solution that ensured their safe release.

The week-long ordeal had an unexpected impact on the currency tycoon. A year later, Roberto Giori sold his company, De La Rue, now called KBA-Giori.

In June 2009, it was identified that FICN coming into India had a common factor – German paper. Close examination showed that the seized notes were of high quality, achievable only in a government press. The paper used was from the same German company that exported material to both India and Pakistan for printing currency notes.

On 4th August 2009, The Times of India reported that the Indian Government had decided to tackle this problem at its source – the vendors who are supplying the paper, the inks and the printing presses, which allows Pakistan to duplicate Indian currency.

On 13th August The Economic Times reported that the secret template India uses to print currency notes had been “compromised” and that was possibly why fake but real-looking Indian currency notes were being pumped in to subvert the country’s economy. We are told the government is now indigenizing the production of a special paper to print Rs 500 notes, the most frequently counterfeited currency in the country.

In this background, the Indian Government stopped release of paper machinery order to a German-Austrian-Scandinavian manufacturer. The Home Ministry turned down a Finance Ministry proposal to purchase currency paper machines from Germany, pointing out that the company, Voith Paper, had been supplying identical machines to Pakistan.

For paucity of space I will not go into the story of British government’s displeasure with India for taking De La Rue Giori Company out of its list of collaborators.

The origin of faking currency is to be traced in the US attempt to derail the USSR economy, by flooding it with fake Rubles. The man who blew the lid off this operation was Leo Wanta.

Wanta, a distinguished U5 Secret Service/Treasury officer was the primary US Financial Warfare officer engaged in operations to “collapse” the Soviet Empire through financial maneuvers to prevent the Soviet military devoting larger resources to military expenditure.

For his financial plan which destabilized the Russian currency and resulted in huge dollar profits, leading into the 27.5 trillion in trust, instead of being recognized for his service, was framed by the Clinton and the Bush crime family after being released from the Swiss jail, and sentenced to a 22-year jail term on bogus Wisconsin state income tax evasion charges.

Wanta has been languishing in jail since 1993. He had invited predicament by auditing the Illuminati’s mega-financing operation of 1989-92 too accurately far the liking of certain high-level official crooks controlling the purse strings in the US.

This expose will open a new window on the issue of fake currency manufactured in Pakistan and pushed into our country. ISI, a faithful disciple of CIA has borrowed the black art from its American whistle blowers and is implementing it in India with exemplary confidence and accuracy.

Reflecting the increasing trends in the injection of FICN into the Indian financial system, the Annual Report (2010-11) of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), under the Ministry of Finance, stated that there was a 400 per cent increase in Counterfeit Currency Transaction Reports (CCTRs) received by the agency. Pakistan is believed to facilitate at least 28 important FICN networks, which operate out of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangkok. Countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sri Lanka and Malaysia have also been used as transit points. Apart from nationals from these countries, the Indian security agencies have arrested FICN couriers from Somalia and Hong Kong as well.

Sources indicate that ISI has set up three nodal centers in Jammu, Malda and Nepal for distribution of FICN across India. Jammu is the nodal point for the western, southern and northern parts of India, while Malda is the principal conduit for West Bengal, Bihar and the north eastern States. The centre in Nepal is used for stocking and distribution of counterfeit notes and smuggling them to Bangladesh for distribution across Assam and the eastern frontier states. Sources also note that at least 12 modules have been set up in cities and towns across India, to penetrate deep into urban and rural areas.

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