The government on Friday said 27 officials of public sector banks have been suspended, while six others have been transferred to non-sensitive posts, marking the first such crackdown on ground-level officers for apparent irregularities post-demonetisation. “While all efforts are being made to facilitate genuine transactions, illegalities will not be tolerated and appropriate action will be taken against individuals involved in irregular and unauthorised activities,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
While appreciating the “commendable work” done by most officers by putting in long hours in managing banking transactions, the ministry said some bank officials were found involved in carrying out transactions “which were irregular and violative of RBI’s instructions”. It did not elaborate on the nature of violations.
The government on November 8 scrapped old R500 and R1,000 currency notes. The move has taken out 86% of the currency in circulation in terms of value. Since November 10, the banking system has been deluged with deposits of about R11 lakh crore. There have been reports of black money hoarders depositing unaccounted cash in Jan Dhan accounts to escape scrutiny with the connivance of bankers.
The deposits in these accounts in a span of 15 days after demonetisation was about R27,193 crore, which was nearly 60% of the amount accumulated in Jan Dhan accounts over two years up to on November 9, raising suspicions.
Hinting that more action is in the offing against black money hoarders, the finance ministry said people involved in converting unaccounted cash into legitimate wealth will be dealt by the law enforcement agencies soon.
“Those indulging in or colluding with money laundering or converting black money into white will not be spared,” economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das tweeted on Friday. “Trails being pursued by agencies. Coordinated action underway. Result already visible. Will be more visible in coming days,” Das added. As reports trickled in that people were using various methods to convert black money into white, the government introduced a Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 earlier this week, which seeks to tax unexplained money deposited in banks post-demonetisation at the rate of 50% under a scheme, while it could go up to 85% for those caught by I-T.