Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Thursday criticised the Centre’s Jan Dhan Yojana programme during a panel discussion on demonetisation on India Today. He said people, including his own friends, were misusing Jan Dhan accounts with help from banks to hide money they gained illegally.

“This is dubious money put into the wretched Jan Dhan accounts,” Kumar told India Today. “I know so many of my friends who have done this with their domestic help and drivers with the collusion of banks.”

After Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were demonetised on November 8, 2016, there had been a surge in the deposits made into Jan Dhan accounts. The deposits had reached a record high of Rs 74,610 crore on December 7, but began to decline afterwards.

After reports suggested that individuals were misusing others’ bank accounts to deposit demonetised notes, the Centre, on November 18, had warned Jan Dhan account holders of prosecution under the Income Tax Act if the accounts were missed. It had also set a cash deposit limit of Rs 50,000 so that no one could use the accounts to deposit black money.

Kumar, however, defended demonetisation during a discussion on whether it had achieved its goal of reducing black money and whether it had been worth it. “I do not know how to quantify the pain [inconvenience caused by demonetisation] because I have not yet seen anything firm about the pain,” Kumar said. “Demonetisation was more than worthwhile economically. I always supported it, even before all these numbers came out.”

The new Niti Aayog vice chairman said the note ban had helped brought down inflation as well as real estate prices. “For the first time, you have an economy that has much greater transparency,” he said.

Kumar, however, admitted that the campaign had fallen short of bringing about economical gains for the Reserve Bank of India. “But the fact remains that this informal economy [black money sector] has shrunk,” he said.

The Niti Aayog, or the National Institution for Transforming India, replaced the Planning Commission after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.