Unusual Money Laundering in India
Money laundering is legal in India these days, but not in the traditional sense. Apparently the spending power of the country’s over 300 million poor has been on the rise, so much so that the central bank in New Delhi hasn’t been able to keep up. Old bills are wearing out, and new bills are not being distributed quickly enough. This, however, has created a market for some entrepreneurial Indians who have made it their business to clean, repair, and exchange the worn out bills. They first purchase worn, torn, or just plain destroyed bills from the poor at a discount. They then do whatever necessary to build a note that can be exchanged, patching, taping, and even combining pieces of different bills. Yet what makes them truly invaluable and sets them apart from their customers is that they have the skill, cunning, experience, and connections needed to wind their way through the hostile red tape, bureaucracy, and winding lines of the central bank to actually exchange the currency. Unfortunately, the poor have been hardest hit by the currency crunch. According to the Wall Street Journal, the “battered bills trickle down to Indians that can least afford to refuse them or throw them away.” And until the bank can hire more employees, the old, illegible notes continue to pile up. At least someone is profiting.
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