ALTHOUGH burning the flag would probably not raise any eyebrows in Hong Kong, treating the currency with disrespect is always going to be risky business. And according to Hongkong Bank, retailers and manufacturers are threatening all that is sacred and holding the territory up to ridicule by splashing copies of the beloved dollar on boxes of sweets, fliers and even naked women. The Hongkong Bank, which produces more than 80 per cent of the territory's notes, yesterday said the use of fake notes in advertising and packaging had escalated dramatically over the past year. Examples of illegal copies of notes used to advertise everything from candy and pop stars to Category III films and karaoke bars are being exposed daily and the bank has moved to bring it to an end. Officials yesterday warned that reproducing legal tender - even if it was not counterfeit quality or to be used as money - infringed copyright and damaged the reputation of both the bank and Hong Kong. And the reproduction of notes for promoting products and services, in coupons and as souvenirs were often in bad taste, the bank's legal adviser Peter White said. 'This does not reflect well on the bank, as an international bank, it doesn't reflect well on Hong Kong either as an international banking centre,' he said. Private investigators were alerting the bank to the copies every day and Mr White said each infringement was pursued with the retailers and manufacturers. Up to three or four cases per year ended up in court, although most were settled. Although a $20,000 fine and six months' imprisonment also applied to the unauthorised reproductions, the Government had not pursued any cases.