CBI probe nails two postal staffers for illegal exchange of demonetised currency

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
12 Sep 2017

Who would have thought, the sedentary and somewhat unexciting employees (in the times of internet) of the Indian Postal Service embarking on a Bonnie and Clyde like heist? In a stunning revelation, which came to light almost a year after demonetisation, some staff members of the Head Post Office here were found party to forgery and scam during the exchange rush in November last year.
According to sources, a couple of officials of the Head Post Office hatched a criminal conspiracy with some unidentified private persons and in criminal breach of trust allowed exchange of huge quantity of older denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 for a lucrative commission on November  9, 2016, a non-banking day for banks and post offices after the Central Government declared the currency notes as illegal tender on November  8, 2016.
Armed with leads, sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted a joint surprise raid at the Head Post Office here. Following investigation and verification of official records pertaining to the period, CBI unearthed the scam which was under wraps for almost a year. Around 205 currency notes of Rs 500 and 47 notes of Rs 1000 denomination were found illegally substituted in lieu of lower denomination currency from the government chest violating an order issued on November  8, 2016 by the Department of Post, Ministry of Communication, New Delhi.
According to sources, the CBI investigation has established the role of Stephen Fernandez, who was posted as Post Master, Head Post Office, at the relevant point of time and one Suprabha, Postal Assistant in the scam. Both have been reported booked on charges of criminal misconduct, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by public servants and placed under suspension. Stephen Fernandez, presently posted as Sub Post Master, SO Bambooflat, reportedly on unauthorised leave since July 2017, has been directed not to leave the headquarter region without permission. Further investigation in the scam is underway as more people are under the scanner of the CBI.