Lao officials to get tough on counterfeit banknotes

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Counterfeit 50,000 kip (US$6.15) and 100,000 kip (US$12.30) notes have been circulated widely.

Stronger measures and legal action are required to penalise people who distribute and use counterfeit banknotes in Laos for commercial activities, to curb the circulation of counterfeit money, a senior bank official has said.

“We honestly don’t know how many people have been arrested for this crime but it’s certainly a problem. The police often give us banknotes they have confiscated to ask us to tell them whether they are genuine or fake,” director general of the Bank of the Lao PDR’s Currency Issues Department, Sivilay Phommachack, told Vientiane Times yesterday (May 23).

The use of counterfeit 50,000 kip (US$6.15) and 100,000 kip notes appears to be on the increase as evidenced by the photos of copied money posted on Facebook’s newsfeed.

Counterfeit money is a chronic issue in Laos and other countries and can only be minimised depending on the legal measures employed by each country.

Laos needs to consider using stronger measures to penalise the distributors of fake banknotes, Sivilay said.

He added that banks alone cannot put an end to all forms of illegal activities and the use of counterfeit banknotes but need cooperation from the public and government ministries.

“We are now working with the Economic Police Office. The police are responsible for arresting wrongdoers and the bank is responsible for checking the validity of banknotes,” he said.

According to Sivilay, the department plans to distribute more information about the use of genuine banknotes and how people can tell the difference between genuine and copied notes.

“Currently, we are working with the Cinema Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to produce a video clip for public distribution that will explain the harmful effects of circulating fake banknotes,” he said.

The video will be shown on television in the near future after officials have edited the content.

(US$1 = 8,130 kip)