Authorities arrested an Argentine Central Bank, or BCRA, employee on Thursday, charging her with stealing more than 90,000 pesos ($11,000) in out-of-circulation banknotes and exchanging them at bingo parlors in Buenos Aires for legal cash, police said.
The Argentine Federal Police said that several gaming sites on the outskirts of the Argentine capital were turning in to local banks worn cash that should have been deposited with the BCRA, a situation that led them to suspect that an employee was pilfering the bills.
During a raid on the house the arrested person owns in the town of Berazategui, in the Greater Buenos Aires area, police seized 90,000 pesos in bills that had been removed from circulation by the bank and should have been in its vaults.
Investigators believe that the worker removed 100-pesos bills that had been set aside due to the fact that they were torn, stained or otherwise damaged and which were going to be sent to the BCRA's banknote destruction plant in the province of Santiago del Estero, northwest of Buenos Aires.
The suspect allegedly exchanged the bills for tokens at bingo halls and casinos and, after several hours had passed, came back to return the tokens for cash, which was dispensed to her in legal bills.
Paper money has an average life of three years, but due to Argentina's problems with inflation, which stood at 7.1 percent during the first two months of the year according to the government, banknotes are getting heavier use and wearing out sooner, a situation that forces authorities to replace them more quickly. EFE