Berne/New Delhi: Switzerland may be known in popular perception as an alleged haven for black money, but it is the fake Indian rupee notes which seem to have seen a huge surge in the Alpine nation.
The quantum of fake Indian currency seized by the Swiss authorities saw an over four-fold increase during 2016, making it the third most seized counterfeit foreign currency in Switzerland after euro and the US dollar.
The fake currencies were in the denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 — both of which have been withdrawn by the Indian government from the list of legal tenders. There was no seizure of any counterfeit Rs. 2,000 note, which were introduced as part of the ambitious demonetisation drive late last year to check the menace of fake notes and the black money problem.
According to the latest data released by the Swiss Federal Office of Police (Fedpol), as many as 1,437 fake Rs. 1,000 notes were seized in Switzerland during 2016, while there were also five counterfeit Rs. 500 notes.
This marks a huge surge from 342 fake Indian currency notes seized by Swiss authorities during 2015 — five were counterfeits of Rs. 500 notes, 336 for Rs. 1,000 and one for Rs. 100.
Over the years, counterfeits have been found in Switzerland mostly for Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, while there have been some instances for other denominations such as Rs. 10 and Rs. 100 notes as well.
As per the latest Fedpol data, the number of counterfeit local currency, Swiss frank, seized during 2016 was 2,370.
Among foreign currencies, the maximum amount of counterfeits was in case of Euro at 5,379, while it was 1,443 for the US dollar — just one more than that for the Indian rupee.
The number of counterfeit British pound found during 2016 was 65, among major currencies.
An analysis of the counterfeit statistics released by the Fedpol over the years shows that the maximum number of fake Indian currency was seized during the year 2012 when it stood at 2,624, but fell sharply to 403 in the subsequent year 2013 and even further to just 181 in 2014.
Earlier in 2011, the number of fake rupee notes was 1,144 — up from 212 in 2010. Prior to that, the number were in single digits mostly except for 25 in 2007 and 100 in the year 2000. No such notes were found in the year 1999 and again in 2003.
Fake currency has been a major concern for India as well as many other countries, due to which they keep improving security features to make it difficult for them to be counterfeited. Still, there have already been some instances of newly introduced Rs. 2,000 notes getting counterfeited and found in some parts of India.