The infamous counterfeit currency mafia in the state will have to hide in its boroughs for long after the 'surgical strike' by the Central government that withdrew currencies of 500 and 1000 denominations on Tuesday. Reports quoting Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) say that the tentacles of the fake currency network were so deeply rooted in Kerala that it operated a parallel economy in the state. 


A review report of the DRI calculates that the Hawala mafia pumped in fake notes to the tune of ₹ 16,800 crores in the past 25 years in Kerala. But the government agencies and banks managed to recover counterfeit notes worth ₹ 1,000 crores only.  The rest of the currencies, most of them ₹500 and ₹ 1,000 were circulating in the economy. 

 

On Wednesday, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav had alleged that Kerala was the hub of counterfeit currency transactions. He was responding to Kerala Finance Minister Tomas Isaac's criticism of Modi government's currency reforms aimed at checking black money and fake currency networks.  
 

Also read:Currency ban a 'mad decision,' says Kerala FM; BJP hits back

 

The DRI officials suspect that Hawala rings in the state played a key role in facilitating the influx of fake notes. Most of these fake notes are exchanged through gold and real estate businesses in the state. When the government withdrew currencies minted before 2005 then, the fake currencies worth  ₹ 300 crores disappeared.

 

After 1998, the fake notes printed in Pakistan started to flow into Kerala through Dubai, Srilanka and Nepal, according to police. In 2009, the DRI and Customs officials had intercepted a container carrying counterfeit currencies. The DRI had also set up a task force to bust the fake money mafia operating in Kerala that had its links to the Middle East and Pakistan. 

 

The influx of fake currencies is believed to have had contributed to the real estate boom in the state.  Fake currencies were a become a big headache for common people and small businesses. The fake notes suspected to have minted at Pakistan were so identical with the original ones that the customers often received them from ATMs of major banks.