While questions were being raised about the detaining of containers filled with cash in Tamil Nadu, officials of the State Bank of India explained that this was a ‘completely normal’ cash transfer between two currency chests that happens regularly.
Such movement is duly authorised by the Reserve Bank of India with necessary approvals, and the cash is generally transported in armoured vehicles that are accompanied by armed guards.
State Bank of India’s Chennai Zone General Manager Ravindranath said it was a routine exercise and that nothing should be read into it. “This is a chest to chest transfer where currency is transferred to a depleted chest from a surplus chest,” he said. The money was going from Coimbatore to Vishakapatnam. According to him, SBI has 144 currency chests in Tamil Nadu.
As per the RBI’s website, to facilitate the distribution of banknotes and rupee coins, the Reserve Bank has authorised select branches of scheduled banks to establish currency chests.
These are actually storehouses where banknotes and rupee coins are stocked on behalf of the RBI. As on March 24, 2016, Tamil Nadu has 275 currency chests belonging to various banks. “These chests distribute currency to another chest where cash gets depleted. Say for example, if SBI Chennai is running out of cash due to major transactions or withdrawals on particular day, cash is immediately sent from the nearest chest to balance it. In this case, the currency would have been routed through Coimbatore because that chest would have had surplus cash,” explained a veteran banker.
He said vehicles transporting currency are heavily guarded. The number of security personnel varies depending on the cash that is being transported, and is usually between two and 10. In some cases, more than 10 guards, fully armed, are also deployed. These vehicles usually don’t stop unless it is really necessary.
Another banking sector source said armoured trucks carrying money are dissuaded from stopping when they are flagged down, fearing a take over or a heist, and that could be one reason why the trucks did not stop immediately.
When cash is being transferred, documents authenticating the transfer (containing the name of the official instructing the transfer/name of the official recipient at the other end), detailed denominations of cash therein and names of the accompanying persons, along with their identity proofs, should be in the possession of the person in charge of transferring the cash, and riding in the trucks.
(With inputs from V. S. Palaniappan)