The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asked banks on Tuesday to ensure that all transactions at their branches and currency chests are done under CCTV surveillance to prevent discrepancies and promote transparency.
In its guidelines issued on Tuesday, the central bank also asked financial institutions to preserve recordings of their operations from November 8 to December 30.
The RBI took the step after the tax department and investigating agencies found several bank officials across the country indulging in malpractices. “This is to facilitate coordinated and effective action by enforcement agencies in dealing with matters related to illegal accumulation of new currency notes,” it said.
Banks had been instructed as early as October to install CCTV cameras at banking halls as well as counters, and preserve recordings so that people indulging in illegal activities could be identified.
Addressing a press meet, RBI deputy governor SS Mundra said while banks have injected Rs 4.61 lakh crore into the system, they collected old currency notes amounting to Rs 12.44 lakh crore till December 10. As many as 21.8 billion currency notes of various denominations have been issued, of which 20.1 billion pieces were of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100 denominations. Around 1.7 billion of the notes issued were of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denominations, he added.
The RBI deputy governor urged the public to use their paper currency instead of hoarding it.
Referring to an RBI functionary in Bengaluru who was suspended for his alleged involvement in an illegal currency exchange, Mundra said: “Let me clarify… (he) is a junior RBI functionary, and it was reported by the investigating agency that he was present at a bank branch where a transaction of this kind was happening… We have suspended the employee and instituted an investigation. Due action will be taken once further details emerge.”
The central bank was working in tandem with investigating agencies to identify such occurrences, he added.
The RBI has instructed banks to undergo central data checking, and warned that inconsistencies would be pursued through an internal audit mechanism. “Our supervisors are also carrying out similar exercises on various data points of banks, and due action would be taken whenever untoward transactions are noticed,” said Mundra.
He revealed that all banks – including the RBI – harbour a team of whistleblowers. Any case cited by them would also be taken up for investigation, Mundra said.
The RBI has already mandated banks to maintain branch-wise reports of counterfeit cash detected among specified currency – scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes – that have been deposited till December 30, 2016. They have also been asked to send it a report on counterfeit notes detected between November 10 and December 9 by Friday.