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Indians will have a multitude of ways to wash their black money after demonetization

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — An Indian family was recently denied service to one of their ill children by a hospital because the ambulance wouldn’t accept Rs 500 or 1,000 notes.

By the time the family found someone to convert the notes for them, which were recently outlawed, the infant had died. This is only one account of such a story since the government de-legalized the notes.

All recorded deaths have been of people belonging to middle class and poor families. There have been no reports of black money hoarders committing suicide or dying of heart attacks due to the sudden shock of realizing their cash had become worthless paper overnight.

The main reason for this is because those who keep black money keep very little of it in cash, they instead find ways of converting it into white and holding on to it in a variety of assets. The most obvious and best known asset is real estate, but there’s also gold, foreign currency, foreign banks, benami accounts in Indian banks, the stock market and regular commercial enterprise.

A recent analysis of illegal wealth in India showed that only about 6 percent possess black money. Most of them will be able to save even this cash, it seems, given how frantically India is Googling for “How to convert black money into white” and the top searches are from Gujarat. Here are a few other ways such people are succeeding:

Temple donations: There are reports of people giving their black money to temple ‘hundis’ or donation boxes. Those who manage the temples will record the donations as anonymous, exchange it for currency notes, keep some of the cash as a commission, and simply return the rest to the owner. The Indian government has already said that temple hundis will not be asked questions. ABP news showed a sting operation in which the priest of Govardhan temple in Mathura was willing to convert Rs 50 lakh of black money into white for a 20 percent commission. There have been such reports from different parts of the country.

Using the poverty-stricken as money mules: As the country’s poor stand in lines at banks to exchange their currency notes, there have also been reports of those same people using the banks to convert their black money. That meaning the actual possessors of the black money are finding poor people to deposit Rs 2.5 lakh in cash, since the government has said deposits up to that amount won’t be questioned. After a short period of time, the poor will return and withdraw the money for a small commission.

Giving loans to poor people: Those who hold black money have also reportedly been funneling their cash through the bank accounts of poor people, whose account activity will not cause suspicion. There have also been reports of people offering loans to the poor with zero interest.

Money laundering firms: Ran by licensed accountants, money laundering companies exist, most famously in Kolkata, which specialize is the washing of black money while evading the taxman. Known as ‘jama-kharchi’ firms in Kolkata and Mumbai launder money by using businesses such as highway transport which run completely on cash. These firms match the needs of companies which need short-term funds with those who have excess black money to park.

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