05-20-2012, 09:54 PM
Cold War Boomer
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Walla Walla
This article is seven years old, but I wonder if this money is still in circulation in countries where they can't tell.
What's the real story here that's never been told?
Counterfeiting Cases Point to North Korea
Pyongyang is accused of being behind a growing effort to print and move rafts of U.S. $100 bills.
By Josh Meyer and Barbara Demick, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — The counterfeiting operation began a quarter of a century ago, he recalled, at a government mint built into a mountain in the North Korean capital.
Using equipment from Japan, paper from Hong Kong and ink from France, a team of experts was ordered to make fake U.S. $100 bills, said a former North Korean chemist who said his job was to draw the design.
"The main motive was to make money, but the secondary motive was inspired by anti-Americanism," said the chemist, now 56 and living in South Korea.
Before long, sheets with 30 bills each were rolling off the printing presses. By 1989, millions of dollars' worth of high-quality fakes were showing up around the world. U.S. investigators dubbed them "supernotes" because they were virtually indistinguishable from American currency. The flow of forged bills has continued ever since, U.S. officials say, despite a redesign intended to make the cash harder to replicate.
For 15 years, U.S. officials suspected that the North Korean leadership was behind the counterfeiting, but they revealed almost nothing about their investigations into the bogus bills or their efforts to stop them. Now, however, federal authorities are pursuing at least four criminal cases and one civil enforcement action involving supernotes.
U.S. authorities have unsealed hundreds of pages of documents in support of the cases in recent months, including an indictment that directly accuses North Korea of making the counterfeit bills, the first time the U.S. has made such an allegation in a criminal case.
The documents paint a portrait of an extensive criminal network involving North Korean diplomats and officials, Chinese gangsters and other organized crime syndicates, prominent Asian banks, Irish guerrillas and an alleged ex-KGB agent.
The criminal cases and U.S. Treasury enforcement action are part of a concerted campaign to deprive North Korea of as much as $500 million a year from counterfeiting currency and other criminal activities, senior U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials say.
The officials say criminal syndicates in South America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere have also churned out large sums of fake U.S. cash. But North Korea's is the only government believed to do so, despite international pressure and laws that characterize such activity as an economic casus belli, or act of war, they say.