Three years after the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 high currency notes in India, the neighbouring country Pakistan has started producing and smuggling better quality Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) to finance the militant groups and illicit activities in the country. Major terrorist groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates, Jaish-e-Mohammed are also the beneficiaries of the illicit funding.
As per the senior officials, Pakistan is making way for the counterfeit currency into India using pre-2016 system and infrastructure of gangs their syndicate, channels and routes.
Pakistan has been using diplomatic channels in Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries to bring and distribute the consignments of Fake Indian Currency Notes.
Pakistan’s secret agency ISI manages to create this currency of better quality visuals than the earlier photocopied ones.
In May 2019, with a whopping amount of Rs 76.7 million in fake currency notes, a recently released D-company associate, Younus Ansari, was arrested with three Pakistani nationals at Kathmandu Airport.
The courier of the fake currency notes was not even concealed but was loosely dumped into the checked-in baggage. The consignor was Pakistan based FICN smuggler Razzak Marfani.
Interestingly, Younus was arrested a few years ago in Nepal for conspiring to implement a hit-job on an Indian diplomat in Kathmandu.
On September 22, police had seized FICN worth Rs 1 million in Punjab from the Sikh radical elements belonging to the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), which had also received five AK 47 Rifles, 30 bore pistols, nine hand grenades, five satellite phones, two mobile phone and two wireless sets. The consignment was sent across the international border with Pakistan, through drones.
Three days later on September 25, in Dhaka police seized FICN worth Rs 4.95 million. Salman Shera, a Dubai national had sent the parcel to Sylhet in Bangladesh, which was sent to Dhaka via a courier service SA Poribahan.
The apprehended individuals revealed that the consignment was headed to Sreenagar Upazila in Munshiganj district in Dhaka.
The original consignor Salman Shera is the son of Aslam Shera, a notorious Pakistan-based ISI dealer in FICN, active since the late 1990s, said senior officials.
Prior to the demonetization in India in 2016, the Pakistani Embassy in Kathmandu was the nerve centre for the FICN operations. The embassy used Birgunj town as its vital transit point for almost all fake currency notes entering India.
As per the sources, ISI had set up a large network of agents from Kathmandu to Birganj and all along the border, to push consignments of FICN from Nepal to India. ISI used the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines or the diplomatic bag to its Missions in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Doha. From these locations, couriers brought consignments on PIA or any other international flights to Kathmandu or Dhaka.
In Bangladesh, Pakistan has been misusing diplomatic channels to bring and distribute consignments of FICN. Pakistani nationals posted in the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka have been expelled, formally and informally, for ferrying FICN and for the terror financing activities.
The cases of staff expulsion from the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka is not new. In late 2015, Second Secretary at the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka, Farina Arshad was expelled for allegedly having connections with Idris Sheikh, an operative of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB).
In January 2015, Mazhar Khan, an attache in the consular section of Pakistani Mission in Dhaka was expelled after the Bangladeshi intelligence accused of peddling FICN. Khan had cultivated a Bangladeshi national Mujibur Rahman and sent him to India 11 times and Thailand 22 times in just a few years to circulate FICN.
The aforesaid Pakistani Mission officials had also developed close ties with radicalizes elements in Dhaka University, Pakistan International Airlines officials and a section of Bangladeshi nationals residing along the border area of India and Pakistan.
The earnings from the FICN smuggling were further channelled to various outfits like Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Ansurullah Bangla Team and Jamaat Shibir operating from Bangladesh.
The FATF’s report on ‘Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Related to Counterfeiting of Currency’, referred to Article 3 of the Currency Counterfeiting Convention (Geneva, 1929) which defined counterfeiting as “fraudulent making or altering of currency, whatever means are employed.” FATF Recommendation 3 designates counterfeiting currency as a predicate offence for money laundering.
The report identifies money laundering and terror financing as aspects associated with counterfeit currency, and these are, in turn, related to organized crime.
It categorically stated, “India has also reported large scale use of counterfeit currency, by both State and non-State actors, to assist/fund terrorist acts. The case studies in this regard furnished by India, expose the scale and intensity of the problem. In particular, there is evidence of multiple bases being used to flood the country with counterfeit notes, thereby attempting to attack the ‘economic security’ of the country, besides using it to fund/assist specific terrorist acts”.
In the FATF’s 2013 report, the role of organized criminal groups in the production of counterfeit currency was elaborated. The report cited the seizure case of February 2012 of counterfeit Indian Rupees concealed in shipment from Pakistan via Hong Kong, China to Nepal.
The FATF report highlighted that the high-quality counterfeit Indian noted were printed in Pakistan and then smuggled in India through transit points at Dhaka, Bangladesh as well. The other routes for the smuggling of FICN were through the India-Pakistan, India-Bangladesh and India-Nepal borders.
The neighbouring country’s act of smuggling the FICN exposes its corrupt practice to destabilise the Indian economy and support terrorism.