NEW counterfeit American $100 bills - seemingly the "best" quality notes to have
ever found ready circulation around Phnom Penh - have recently been picked up by
Cautious traders, wary of being "burned" by counterfeit bills,
have readily accepted the notes because they pass all the quick tests of
legitimate notes - except for the plastic strip on the left side.
businessman, who had two of the counterfeit $100 notes, said they appeared
However, the bank found that the plastic strip appeared on the
outside of the note, rather than inside the paper. Experts struggled to find any
other obvious signs of forgery.
But business people spoken to by the
Post could not understand why local trading banks did not seize the notes to
ensure they were taken out of circulation.
"The bank just gave it back to
me and said it was bad. I was free obviously to get rid of it again myself,"
"If the banks don't confiscate them or stamp them fake, how on
earth will they ever get out of the system," he said.
"We would lose the
money, sure, but at least it would be out of the system. Everybody puts these
notes back into play," he said.
A banking expert said that the riel was
Cambodia's legal tender and dealing with foreign currency was done at the user's
peril, as was true in any country in the world.
There was a great deal
of uncertainty and caution by many traders dealing with US dollars and other
foreign currencies, with some returning bills "just because they don't like the
look of them," he said.
"It might well be that the bills are good," he
By law, American banks have to seize counterfeit bills and send
them to the appropriate Treasury authorities.
Cambodian banks were not
subject to United States law, and were therefore under no obligation to seize
such notes, he said.
If people insisted on using US curency instead of
riel, it was up to them to accept the risks, he said.
"You can't ask the
(Cambodian) government to cover you or to introduce laws just because people
choose not to use the national currency," he said.
The introduction of
larger denomination riel notes - up to 100,000 riel - would make trading easier
and put less reliance on large financial transactions being done in dollars, he