Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Forged bills said to be top quality

Forged bills said to be top quality

Forged bills said to be top quality

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

banks.

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.

One

businessman, who had two of the counterfeit $100 notes, said they appeared

perfect.

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,"

said one.

"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

said.

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

said.

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