Police seek mainland help on fake banknotes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2007, 12:00am

Counterfeit bills with face value of HK$58,000 found in Tai Po

Hong Kong police will ask mainland authorities to help them track down where counterfeit money is being printed, after seizing bogus banknotes with a face value of HK$58,000 from a flat on a public housing estate in Tai Po yesterday.

The cash was in the form of 58 HSBC-issued HK$1,000 notes.

Detectives from the Commercial Crime Bureau arrested a 22-year-old man and his sister, 34, in the flat in Wan Hang House on the Wan Tau Tong Estate at about 6am.

Officers also seized 35 bank books, nine fake company chops, two bogus Hong Kong identity cards, a computer, two printers and 38 tablets thought to be Erimin-5 tranquillisers.

The number of fake HK$1,000 banknotes confiscated has jumped from 281 in 2004 to 1,416 last year. In 2005, 403 were seized.

Police have found 141 HK$1,000 counterfeit banknotes in the first two months of this year.

Superintendent Li Yick-lung, of the Commercial Crime Bureau, said the counterfeit notes seized yesterday were about to be put into circulation in Hong Kong.

'We believe the bogus banknotes were made on the mainland and then members of a cross-border syndicate brought them into Hong Kong,' he said.

'The fake banknotes would have been laundered by buying things in shops and getting change in genuine currency.'

Police believe the counterfeit notes were photocopied and then printed on inkjet machines.

'The counterfeit banknotes are not of high quality and could have been identified easily by the public. If you look at them carefully, you will see they are counterfeits,' Mr Li said.

The two suspects were thought to be key members of a cross-border counterfeit-money syndicate that had been under police investigation for a few months, he said.

Inquiries revealed that some of the 35 bank books seized contained false information.

Some purported to show that salaries had been paid into the accounts.

'We believe that the syndicate also attempted to cheat banks by applying for personal loans with these fake documents,' Mr Li said.

The suspects have been detained at Wan Chai police station for questioning and no charges have been laid.