2ndlook

Terrorists And Counterfeit Indian Currency

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, India, Indo Pak Relations by Anuraag Sanghi on September 10, 2008
Lake Toplitz

Lake Toplitz

Operation Bernhard

The year – 1959. Country -Austria. Place – Lake Toplitz. Publication – German magazine, Stern – and an intrepid journalist, Wolfgang Löhde. The article, ‘Geld wie Heu’ (Tons of gold) unveiled a hitherto rumored top secret Nazi operation – code named ‘Operation Bernhard.’

For years, stories had been floating around how, Nazi Germany, facing imminent defeat, sunk its fabled loot in Lake Toplitz. The sunken treasures supposedly include the Russian Tsar’s Amber Room, paintings, gold looted from various countries.

After, the press report, a search by divers was organized. Crates were fished out from the deep waters, containing sunken loot.

The most shocking find was counterfeit British currency. A film, The Counterfeiters, has been made on the German operation to flood Britain with fake currency. In 2000, Oceaneering, a search-and-salvage firm (which salvaged the Titanic wreck) also decided to try and recover some of this Nazi loot.

Fake US Dollars - Made In North Korea?

Fake US Dollars - Made In North Korea?

The North Korean ‘Fake’ Dollar Racket

In 1989, a new kind of fake US$100 dollar bill was detected in Manila, Philippines. These ‘fake’ dollar notes were arguably of very good quality. Dubbed as ‘Supernote’ and ‘Superdollar’, these fakes were separately classified as PN-14342, a code that the US uses to classify fake notes.

Initially, US charged Iran with counterfeiting, in June 1992. After Iran, for some time, the US charged Syria and the Hezbollah (from Bekaa Valley, Lebanon) of this counterfeiting operation. In 2005, the USA ratcheted up a campaign against North Korea – accusing them of counterfeiting and distributing US dollars.

On 26th July, 2006, the Interpol was co-opted in this campaign – and an Orange Notice was issued, ‘which warn about threats from weapons or dangerous objects’. Interpol’s ‘hit squad’ sank without trace – at least from the public arena. The ‘Free Press’ in America asked no questions and they were told no truth. Even Korean press fell in line with this propaganda.

The first to blow a whistle on this whole ‘Supernote’ shebang thing was the Swiss police. The Swiss police claimed that the North Koreans did not have the wherewithal to do it.

On January 7th, 2007, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the German newspaper ran a story alleging that these fakes were in fact printed in the USA itself – to fund covert CIA operations. And not North Korea, as alleged by the USA.

Based on this report, an internet portal, the Democratic Underground speculated

I was even wondering myself if the kid gloves treatment that was afforded to money launderer Thomas Kontogiannis who was tied into Duke Cunningham, Brent Wilkes, and the intelligence agencies might have known more about this than he ought to and that was why he was “allowed” to travel to Europe after being sentenced for his crimes here under the “guidance” of some unnamed governmental agency unbeknownst to the sentencing judge.

There’s an article that recently came up through the McClatchy Bureau that would appear to support Deutche Allemaigne’s conclusions, talking about a new rash of fake $100 bills that are floating around:

Good Quality Fakes

Good Quality Fakes

Interestingly, another accused was Sean Garland of the Official Irish Republican Army or Old IRA. Irish banks stopped accepting US$100 notes floating in Ireland – some 8000 km from North Korea.

This arrest of Sean Garland came soon after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, between the Irish and the British Government. Soon after this agreement, the arrest of Sean Garland, (and his subsequent escape), a peace accord was signed between the Irish and the UK Government.

And ‘Ronin’, the movie, ran on a story of the mysterious briefcase, (whose contents, we never get to see), wanted by the Russian Mafia and the IRA – and a host of other secret service agencies. The closing lines in the movie mention how the Irish problem was solved soon after the ‘briefcase operation’.

Zimbabwe Currency Problem

Germany‘s development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, wrote a letter to a publicly unknown company, Giesecke & Devrient – to stop trading with Zimbabwe. Printweek, a trade journal reported,

The Wall Street Journal reported that Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, ordered the company to halt deliveries.

This was a part of Western campaign to throttle Zimbabwe regime of Robert Mugabe – a step, the Germans had not suggested against the apartheid regime of Ian Smith – which was thrown out by Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. Earlier, the Giesecke & Devrient, worked around the the anti-apartheid sanctions and secretly shipped three machines to set up a printing press in the bowels of the Reserve Bank’ of Zimbabwe. Nazi Germany’s currency was, of course, as was Weimar Republic’s currency printed by the same company.

Giesecke & Devrient’s ties with Zimbabwe go way back. It supplied Ian Smith’s white minority regime with bank notes and money-printing machines when the country unilaterally declared independence from Britain in 1965. Britain tried to stop the deliveries by suing Giesecke & Devrient in German courts, arguing unsuccessfully that since the world didn’t recognize the Smith regime, the bank notes were forgeries.

White-minority rule ended, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Mr. Mugabe became its leader in 1980, and Giesecke & Devrient carried on selling to the central bank. In the late 1980s, Mr. Mugabe publicly praised the company for its loyalty to Zimbabwe, according to Klaus Bender, author of the book “Moneymakers: The Secret World of Banknote Printing.”

How The ‘Free Press’ Fell In Line

As in the ‘Supernotes’ case, the South Korean press advised its Government to quietly fall in line – and press gang North Korea. Similarly, in case of Zimbabwe currency too, the ‘Free Press’ did not see any contradiction in this step by Giesecke & Devrient.

The Secret World Of Currency Printing

The high-security currency printing and technology business is dominated by a few Western companies. A book review on one of the few books giving details of this business says

“Moneymakers ” by offering a detailed view of the banknote industry and its modus operandi, removes the industry’s carefully imposed shroud of secrecy The only previous attempt to reveal this story was published in 1983 by an American author, Terry Bloom, (“The Brotherhood of Money. The Secret World of Banknote Printers”). The entire edition of that book was bought up – straight from the printing presses – by two prominent representatives of the industry to prevent the public from getting an inside view of the business. Bloom’s book is impossible to find today.

 

Most of the established companies, less than 12, in this business operate from the EU. Companies like Arjo Wiggins, Giesecke & Devrient, Hologram.Industries, Hueck Folien, KBA-Giori S.A., Leonhard Kurz GmbH & Co. KG, Orell Füssli, founded in 1519, are based out of Europe.

The four major segments in the currency business are paper (Arjo Wiggins, Crane & Co.etc.), printing presses (KBA-Giori S.A., Giesecke & Devrient,) note accessories (like the security thread, holograms, etc.) and lastly inks (e.g. SICPA). Then there integrators (like Orell Füssli, etc.) who provide total, end-to-end currency printing services.

Association Goznak is a Russia based company. In January of 2002, Crane & Co., USA, acquired AB Tumba Bruk, Tumba, Sweden, paper maker and printer of bank notes and high security documents since 1755. Crane & Co. and SICPA (Swiss based, ink specialist) are major players in the USA. Asia and Africa completely depend on these Western companies for their currency printing and technology. This poses a significant threat like the North Korean ‘Supernote’ scam shows.

The Indian Government is thinking of awarding a contract to manufacture coin blanks using some interesting technology. This will ensure that India will make a beginning in manufacture of currency elements for low value coins to start with.

Roberto Giori

Roberto Giori

Hijacking Of IC 814

1997 – One day, a gentleman called up a courier office in Hyderabad (India) and introduced himself as HK Advani (brother of LK Advani). He was (supposed) to be representing the Swiss company De La Rue (before it was merged to become KBA Giori). He was checking with the status of a quotation from De La Rue for the Hyderabad Mint modernization.

In 1997, one of India’s non-British mints, the Hyderabad Mint was moved from the old premises to a new complex. Tenders were floated for equipment for the modernization of this mint. Some two years later, on 24th December, 1999, IC 814 was hijacked by Kashmiri terrorists to Taliban Afghanistan – demanding US$200 million.

Time-Asia reported

… one of the hostages sitting in economy class could have effortlessly written them a check for that amount. Roberto Giori, owner of the Lausanne-based company De La Rue Giori, boarded Flight 814 after a holiday in Katmandu with his companion Cristina Calabresi. De La Rue Giori, which Giori inherited from his father, happens to control 90% of the world’s currency-printing business. The 50-year-old Giori, who holds dual Swiss and Italian nationality, is one of Switzerland’s richest men.

Switzerland sent a special envoy to the airport to deal with the abduction of its “currency king,” his companion and two other Swiss nationals. It also put pressure on New Delhi to come to a solution that ensured their safe release.

The week-long ordeal had an unexpected impact on the currency tycoon. “What I experienced on the plane has changed me forever,” said Giori. “I don’t know what it is: Hinduism, the so-called fatalism of Indians. But the way the passengers stayed so calm throughout, even the children, was exemplary. I told myself, if the plane had been full of Italians or French, it would have been very different.”

One year later, Roberto Giori company, sold his company, De La Rue – which has now become KBA-Giori.

Fake Currency Circulation Estimates In India

The Hindu reports,

“Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director U.S. Misra on Thursday said the Naik Committee had estimated the number of fake currency notes in circulation in the country at 61,000 million pieces valued at Rs. 1,69,000 crores till the year 2000.

How to spot a fake Indian currency note

How to spot a fake Indian currency note

A think tank report estimates, “Till 2006, FICN worth INR 50 to 80 million was pumped into the country from Pakistan per annum. From 2007, however, the amount has increased to INR 120 to 130 million.” Total seizures by the police and reported interceptions in the circulatory system (banks, etc) of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) in India now exceed Rs.10 crores.

The DNA and this Nagaland’s Morung Express also bring in the alternate estimate by the RBI. DNA refers to 0.0004% of India’s currency /economy and the Morung Express refers to an RBI estimate of US$51 billion estimate.

My feeling is that the 0.0004% estimate by the RBI (DNA report) is way too conservative – and the CBI figure of Rs. 1,69,000 crores and the US$51 billion (Morung Express reports) is way to high. Looking at CBI statistics for seizures and using a multiple of that, my estimate is about INR200-300 crores is in circulation. There may be another INR500-1200 crores which is used in the underground economy, which is not in circulation. Thus a total of INR 700-1500 crores of counterfeit currency has been created. Anecdotal evidence from other countries also suggest a median figure of 700-1500 crores.

On 5th August, The Economic Times reported that

According to the figures disclosed by the government in the Upper House recently, 7.34 lakh of Rs 100 notes, 5.76 lakh of Rs 500 notes and 1.09 lakh of Rs 1000 notes, all fakes, had been seized during the 2006-09 period.

More and better estimates came out on12th August, 2009, when a RBI panel estimated the number of fake notes in the country could be in the range of at 3-6 pieces per million, one of the lowest in the world.”

Just disrupt the terror factories!

Just disrupt the terror factories!

Terror Funding In India

In India, impacted by the largest number of terrorism incidents, for many years running now, FICN has long been seen as the source of terror funding. Kashmir Valley, supposedly stricken by terrorism, has one of the highest per capita car population in India. Land prices and construction in the Kashmir valley is at an all time high.

The usual suspect is Pakistan. Where in Pakistan is this getting printed? Security press at Malir Cantonment in Karachi, printing facilities in Quetta, Baluchistan and also security presses in Lahore and Peshawar are mentioned.

Reports suggest that the currency paper is being sourced from London – but who is this London-based currency paper provider? However, news report from DNA, correctly points out Europe – where most of the security press companies are located – and not London.

Now, this small clutch of currency businesses makes it simple to track the source of inks, paper, dies, plates – which can be identified by a simple spectroscopic examination. The cost of this entire examination will be far lesser than the amount of money (not fake FICN) that the Indian Government spends on fighting terror.

Is it that Indian intelligence agencies depend too much on ‘khabris’ or ‘humint’. The Indian Government surely has enough diplomatic leverage to bring these international companies in line.

The Answer

My feeling – the actual answers may be different. The counterfeiting of US dollars is understandable. It is the world’s largest currency – and most acceptable. The GBP or the Euro are also reasonable targets for counterfeiting activity. Even counterfeiting the Canadian dollar! Not to forget Euro-forgeries.

But, the most unlikely target is the Indian Rupee! India is a small, poor economy, (at least, till about 5 years ago). India does not have capital convertibility either. So, this huge counterfeiting operation raises more questions. Is this counterfeiting related to India’s Gold reserves?

The entire currency and security-grade printing is dominated by less than a dozen companies. These companies will not dare to support ‘counterfeiting’ operations – unless there is official cover or support given to them, by their respective Governments.

In the last 20 years, India has lowered its guard – and has become further fixated on the Pakistan bogey.The Pakistan Fixation is a a cover-up of India’s laziness or lack of resolve. I don’t really believe that Pakistan has the focus or the persistence to do this fake currency racket over so many years. The Pakistan Fixation hides Indian ineptness at confronting this problem.

Post Script

Some 20 months after this post was published, on May 1st, 2010, newspapers reported that an Indian Parliamentary committee, Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU), had seriously faulted the decision to use European firms for printing Indian currency. The CoPU felt that “India’s currency being printed in three different countries is alarming and during that particular fateful period our entire economic sovereignty was at stake.” The value of the currency notes given for printing was in “all amounting to a sum of Rs 1,00,000 crore.” It was further revealed that

“2,000 million pieces of 100 rupee denomination and 1,600 million pieces of 500 rupee denomination of notes were outsourced for printing at American Banknote Company(USA) – 635 million pieces, Thomas De La Rue-UK – 1,365 million pieces (100 rupee denomination) and Giesecke and Devrient Consortium (Germany) – 1,600 million pieces (500 rupee denomination).”

In June 2009, it was identified that FICN coming into India had a common factor – German paper. Reporting on this issue, Mumbai Mirror Bureau, on June 29, 2009 said,

Sources said the seized notes are of high quality, achievable only in a government press. The paper used is from the same German company that exports material to both India and Pakistan for printing currency notes.

An officer said, “Earlier there used to be rackets operated from a room with currency notes printed through a laptop. But notes seized in the past couple of years have everything right, from watermark and paper quality to UV features. A Rs 1,000 note costs close to Rs 350 for printing. Add to it the risk and it becomes an unsustainable business unless funded by a state agency.”

This was something that was repeated 7 months later, when The Times of India reported much the same thing on January 14, 2010.

On 4th August 2009, The Times Of India reported that the Indian Government had decided to tackle this problem at its source – the vendors who are supplying the paper, the inks and the printing presses, which allows Pakistan to duplicate Indian currency. Good move.

On 13th August The Economic Times reported that

The secret template India uses to print currency notes has been “compromised” and that is possibly why fake but real-looking Indian currency notes are being pumped in to subvert the country’s economy, says the Central Bureau of Investigation … The government is also indigenizing the production of a special paper to print Rs 500 notes, the most frequently counterfeited currency in the country. (ellipsis mine).

The Indian Government stopped release of paper machinery order to a German-Austrian-Scandanavian manufacturer, reported The Indian Express on Sep 28, 2009.

“the Home Ministry has turned down a Finance Ministry proposal to purchase currency paper machines from Germany, pointing out that the company, Voith Paper, has been supplying identical machines to Pakistan. “The manufacturers said they will make some modifications for the machines they supply to Pakistan so that the currency paper is not identical. But we decided to be cautious in view of the serious problem of distribution of FICNs. The Finance Ministry, at a high level, has agreed with the Home Ministry’s view,” the official said.

The really interesting story’ is the US attempt to derail the (former) USSR economy, by flooding it with fake roubles. The man who blew the lid of this operation – Leo Wanta.

At this time, Wanta, a distinguished U5 Secret Service/Treasury officer was the primary US Financial Warfare officer engaged in operations to “collapse” the Soviet Empire through financial maneuvers to prevent the Soviet military devoting larger resources to military expenditure.

For his financial plan which destabilized the Russian currency and resulted in huge dollar profits, leading into the 27.5 trillion in trust, instead of being recognized for his service, he was set-up by the Clinton’s and the Bush crime family after being released from the Swiss jail, sentenced to a 22 year jail term on bogus Wisconsin state income tax evasion charges.

Although recently released and protected in a sense by the 2003 federal court ruling in his favor, Wanta has languished much of the time since 1993 in jail and now under house arrest, the primary reason for his predicament being he audited the Illuminati’s giga-financing operation of 1989-92 too accurately far the liking of certain high-level official crooks controlling the purse strings.

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