S. Vijay Kumar

If the currency notes are found to be fake, it will open a Pandora's box

MADURAI: As the stage is set for the Crime Branch Crime Investigation Department (CB-CID) to determine the genuineness of Rs. 30 lakh seized in the Serina case, several questions about the source of the money and how it reached her Anbu Nagar residence in Madurai remain unanswered.

According to agency sources, the immediate concern of the investigators is to ascertain the genuineness of the currency though parallel efforts are also on to unearth its source. The Karuppayoorani police seized Rs. 1.4 crore from Serina's house during July 2003 out of which Rs. 30 lakh is suspected to be fake.

If the suspicion of the Income Tax Department (that part of the money is fake) turns out to be true, the issue will open a Pandora's box. "The question of the money being genuine is very remote since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has alerted the IT Department on two occasions that serial numbers pertaining to Rs. 1,000 denomination totalling Rs. 30 lakh were not let into circulation when the money was seized by the police. In fact, the money was still in the RBI vault in New Delhi and Mumbai when the case was registered. The indication is clear that this money here is counterfeit," a top police official said.

Preliminary enquiries made with Serina at her residence last week did not throw much light on the source of the money. While Jagadeesh Raja of Kadambur claimed that Ravi Chopra of New Delhi had sent the cash for purchasing land in Tirunelveli, investigations made by the IT Department revealed that Rs. 1.4 crore was part of a Rs. 6.3 crore project.

Non-existent number

Atul Tiwari of Indore, claiming to be a common friend of Ravi Chopra and Jagadessh Raja, had delivered the cash at Serina's house. However, the IT officials could not trace Atul Tiwari for interrogation and his mobile phone number "did not exist," the official said.

The IT Department probe also exposed that there was hardly any link between Jagadeesh Raja and Serina as there was no record of any written communication or conversation between the duo over phone. Their mobile and landline phone bills of 2002-03 were verified.

The claim that a couple of Delhi-based companies were part of the project in Tirunelveli was also false.

"If the money is found to be fake, we have to investigate its source, actual quantum printed over the years, places where it was sent or circulated and the racket involved in the crime. Going by the records, Serina was just in possession of the money. The probe has to go beyond her."

Sources in the IT Department said the facts of the case were referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).