Mumbai

For ACB team, desperate times call for desperate measures

Dummy notes help boost bribe amount used to trap officer

Dummy notes of ₹2,000, normally used in children’s games or by fraudsters to slip into a bundle of genuine currency, came to the rescue of an Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) team on Tuesday.

Officials with the Nashik unit of the ACB said they received a complaint last week from a man who works as a consultant for farmers. One of his several jobs is to act as a conduit to obtain the certificates necessary for a farmer to export his produce. The complainant alleged that when he approached Narendrakumar Aghav, a Class I government servant posted as deputy agriculture director with the office of the District Agriculture Superintendent in Nashik, for the work, the official demanded a bribe.

“The complainant was seeking certificates for a large group of farmers in one go, and Mr. Aghav demanded ₹1.64 lakh from him for the work. The complainant approached us and we started verifying his claims,” an officer with the Nashik ACB said.

In subsequent conversations monitored by the ACB, Mr. Aghav allegedly agreed to settle for ₹1 lakh as the first instalment. The ACB registered a case against Mr. Aghav and set about laying a trap. The process, however, hit a hurdle when the complainant was only able to put together ₹50,000 in cash.

“The complainant had 25 notes of ₹2,000 available at the moment, but Mr. Aghav was not willing to lower the amount any further. Any delay might have made him suspicious. So we slipped in 25 dummy notes of ₹2,000 in with the genuine notes,” an ACB officer said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Aghav accepted the money in his office. ACB officers, who were in the area in plain clothes, arrested Mr. Aghav.

“He has been charged with demanding and accepting a bribe under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He was produced in court on Tuesday and has been remanded in our custody for two days. Searches were conducted at his residence and office, and we are awaiting the report,” the officer said.

ACB officers said while the practice of using dummy notes is not a usual one, it is also not entirely unheard of. “Complainants have their limits as to how much cash they can raise at short notice, and we have to resort to such methods when the demand is of a large amount. Before dummy notes being sold as toys became a norm, we would use blocks of paper cut in the size of genuine currency notes,” a senior ACB officer said.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 8:51:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/for-acb-team-desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures/article30985556.ece

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