Banknote printer De La Rue says made aware of India probe

FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of De La Rue is seen at De La Rue Malta at Bulebel Industrial Estate in Zejtun

By Muhammed Husain

(Reuters) -Banknote printer De La Rue said on Friday it had been made aware of an investigation by Indian authorities into a former Indian finance secretary in which the historical activities of De La Rue in India prior to 2016 have been implicated.

De La Rue said in a statement it had not received any official communication about the investigation into Arvind Mayaram, the former Indian Finance Secretary, from the Central Bureau of Investigation in India, but had learned about it from publicly-available sources.

De La Rue said the allegations relating to the group had no merit and it was seeking legal advice, but declined to comment further.

The company's shares fell as much as 8% to a six-month low on Friday after the company's comments.

Indian media reports have said the CBI conducted searches at Mayaram's premises in New Delhi and Jaipur earlier this month.

The media reports, citing the CBI's first information report, said the CBI had filed a case against Mayaram on Jan. 10, over allegations he awarded a three-year contract extension in 2013 to De La Rue for supply of exclusive security thread for Indian banknotes without mandatory security clearance.

When asked for comment by Reuters, Mayaram said: "I’m confident CBI investigation will be fair and that in the end truth will triumph."

The CBI did not respond to a request for comment.

De La Rue also said it has suspended its note-printing operations in Kenya and it did not expect any new orders from the African country's central bank for the next 12 months due to low market demand.

However, its joint venture with the Kenyan government, through which its operations in the country are conducted, remain active, the company added.

"The company continues to explore further business opportunities, both in Kenya and for export from Kenya, with a view to restarting production if the economic climate permits," De La Rue said.

(Reporting by Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed, Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Eileen Soreng and Jane Merriman)