MUMBAI(PTI): After election officers seized Rs 570 crore in cash from three containers in poll-bound Tamil Nadu in the wee hours today, State Bank of India said this evening that it was the bank’s legitimate cash.
In a statement, SBI said its officials were ferrying Rs 570 crore after the RBI asked them to, to address a temporary cash shortage in Andhra Pradesh.
“To address a temporary cash shortage in Andhra Pradesh, the RBI has authorised transfer of Rs 570 crore from our currency chest in Coimbatore main branch to our special currency administration branch in Visakhapatnam.
“As per RBI instructions, our Coimbatore main branch released the treasure to the authorised SBI personnel, duly escorted by a team of Andhra police. But the convoy carrying the cash was stopped by the EC officials enroute and brought to Tiruppur collectorate for further scrutiny,” the SBI statement said and termed the EC action as “erroneous.”
The bank said its officials in Chennai, Coimbatore and Tirupur are providing all support and clarifications to the EC authorities and are hopeful of quick resolution and release of cash.
“We reiterate once again this movement of currency is duly authorised by the Reserve Bank and has all necessary approvals. The movement is in line with the RBI currency management policy of moving cash from one currency chest to other where cash is needed,” SBI said.
In the wee hours today the EC officials took into its custody three trucks carrying Rs 570 crore during a routine check at the Perumanallur-Kunnathur Bypass in Tirupur district in the run-up to the polls.
Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring Kerala and Puducherry are going to polls on Monday and through the campaign period, the EC has confiscated more than hundred crore in cash at various places in Tamil Nadu.
EC officials said they took the vehicles into custody as the personnel accompanying the containers/trucks did not show all the necessary documents and those in the escorting cars refused to stop.
“Containers escorted by three cars did not halt, but officials chased them and stopped them near Chengapalli. A check revealed the amount, kept in many boxes, inside the containers,” the police said, adding the men in cars claimed that they were Andhra policemen but were not in uniform.
When the police and the EC officials asked as to why they had sped away without stopping, they told the police they feared it was a robbery attempt and that they were unaware that the officials were from the election department.
In Delhi, the Election Commission also said earlier in the day that it was “prima facie suspect cash” as no agency or organisation had come forward to claim it.
“Prima facie it is suspect cash as no agency or organisation has come forward to claim it,” an EC officer said.