Chandy links blacklisted UK currency printer’s re-entry to demonetisation

Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. File photo  

Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday cast doubt on the re-emergence of a previously blacklisted British company, a currency printing major, in India around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the demonetisation drive.

Thomas de la Rue, one of the three foreign firms contracted by the Reserve Bank of India in 1997-98 to print 360 crore currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 100 denominations with an aggregate value of Rs. 1 lakh crore, was reportedly blacklisted by the Union Home Ministry in 2011, he told the media, citing a set of documents including news reports.

In a report in 2012-13, the Public Undertakings Committee of Parliament — then headed by Congress’ Jagadambika Pal, who has since joined the BJP — expressed serious reservations about the RBI’s unprecedented move in 1997-98 to outsource currency printing to foreign firms, maintaining that it risked currency falling in the hands of “unscrupulous elements like terrorists, extremists and other economic offenders…”

“There is no mention of de la Rue’s activities in India in its annual reports of years 2013, 2014 and 2015, but its annual report of 2016 clearly mentions the India operations of de la Rue Cash Processing Solutions India Pvt Ltd and de la Rue India Pvt Ltd. In a recent interview to a journal, Martin Southerland, chief executive of de la Rue, says that the company has set up an office in Delhi and its senior management is working closely with the Union Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). He further speaks about its potential role in the ‘Make In India’ initiative. There’s also evidence to show that the company’s share value rose by 33.33 per cent after April 11, 2016,” Mr. Chandy said.

He also called into question the company’s involvement as one of the Platinum Partners in the India-U.K. Tech Summit held in Delhi in early November. In the wake of news reports suggesting that the RBI had selected a few foreign firms including de la Rue to print plastic currency notes of Rs. 10 denomination to bring liquidity to market, Union Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal informed the Parliament on December 9, 2016 that plastic currency printing had begun at a foreign firm.

“I would urge the Government of India to explain the nature of its close partnership with a company earlier blacklisted by the Union Home Ministry. Has the government taken any step to get plastic money printed by a foreign company sidestepping the PUC’s strong recommendation against the practice? If the government denies having any ties with the blacklisted firm, would it launch an investigation into the firm’s full-scale resurgence in India,” Mr. Chandy asked.

Urging the media to probe the issue further, he said it would be brought to the notice of the party’s central leadership.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 3:26:14 PM |

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