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North Korean counterfeits return

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North Korea is back to doing one of the few things it does best – counterfeiting the money of other countries. In this case, however, it is the bank notes of its closest ally, China, that are being counterfeited.

North Korea has turned its efforts to counterfeiting the Chinese yuan.

North Korea has turned its efforts to counterfeiting the Chinese yuan, the currency of its closest ally.

The Hong Kong television network Phoenix Television reported on April 6 that North Korea was using what it described as “world class” counterfeiting technology to make the fake 100-yuan bank notes now appearing in several Chinese cities. According to the television network, North Korea has the capability to produce bogus Japanese and United States currency as well.

Phoenix Television commentator Du Ping described what North Korea is doing as “unimagined feats” due to recent economic sanctions imposed on North Korea. North Korea is also allegedly involved in illegal weapons smuggling and drug trafficking. The North Koreans are focusing on Russia and Japan, according to the network, as the “hermit kingdom” seeks hard currency to spend on the international market.

The Chinese state news website Global Times announced on March 28 that the fake bank notes were being detected in the city of Dalian. The bogus notes were previously reported to be appearing in Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province as early as November 2015. It appears that much of the counterfeit currency is coming across the border from North Korea via tourists and through local merchants.

Border Studies Institute at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences Director Lu Chao said it has “already been proved” that North Korea has counterfeited U.S. currency. He described what North Korea is now doing with Chinese currency as a “risky decision.” Lu acknowledged the counterfeiting reflects the country’s economic crisis caused by the sanctions recently imposed by the UN Security Council due to North Korea developing nuclear weapons.

While North Korea is not alone in counterfeiting U.S. $100 bank notes, it is the notes printed illegally by North Korea that in the past have been dubbed as “super notes.” Although it has never been proven beyond a doubt that North Korea is a major manufacturer of counterfeit U.S. bank notes, there are many indications that the allegations are true.

U.S. government sources suggest North Korean diplomats Moscow and the Irish Republican Army were two major sources of counterfeit U.S. $100 notes printed in North Korea during the early part of the 21st century. Former KGB secret police officials have been accused of cooperating with the diplomats in Moscow. The Irish High Court refused to extradite IRA Chief of Staff Sean Garland to the United States following accusations he passed some of the super notes. Some defectors from North Korea have also claimed to be witnesses to the fake notes being printed.

The United States has actively tried to end the distribution of “super notes” since 2004. Americans are forbidden to bank with Banco Delta Asia, a bank in Macao that has knowingly passed counterfeit notes since at least 1994. The Bank of China and Seng Heng Bank are also under suspicion for similar activities.

In a 2006 public statement Treasury officials accused Banco Delta Asia of accepting “large deposits of cash” from North Korea “including counterfeit U.S. currency, and agreeing to place that currency into circulation.” The Treasury later said of the bank it was of a “primary money-laundering concern.”

David Wolman of Time Magazine wrote in 2012 that “These ultra-counterfeits are light-years beyond the weak facsimiles produced by most forgers, who use desktop printers. With few exceptions, only Federal Reserve banks equipped with the fanciest detection gear can identify these fakes.”

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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