The very slow printing of the new Rs 500 note at the Bank Note Press (BNP) in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, is attributed to an old, but expensive machine supplied by a Swiss-British joint venture company that was allowed to violate significant tender norms in selecting the company, the Lausanne-based KBA-Giori, which collaborated with the UK-based Thomas De La Rue to form De La Rue Giori, that a four-set “finishing machine” procured for Rs 400 crore “did not meet tender specifications” and yet was purchased after suspected kickbacks were paid to top Indian government functionaries in 2009.
The machine, which was installed in 2010-11, continues to be operated at the Dewas BNP and is said to have slowed the printing/production of the new Rs 500 notes which are in extreme short supply.
Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL), which is under the Finance Ministry, struck a deal with KBA-Giori in 2009, when Pranab Mukherjee was the finance minister, for the supply of the finishing machine whose production speed for churning out currency notes was far below tender specifications.
The alleged beneficiary of the scam was the then SPMCIL Chairman and Managing Director M S Rana who was close to the personal secretary of a top UPA cabinet minister. A charge sheet official, Rana was removed as SPMCIL chief in July this year, following a series of inquiries into several cases of alleged corruption and misuse of office.