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Hong Kong Monetary Authority offers to help film industry by providing samples of fake money to use in productions

Deputy chief executive of city’s central bank says he will try to make fake money process easier for film crews as the two sides are set to meet over the ongoing counterfeit cash drama

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2018, 8:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2018, 8:56pm

Hong Kong’s de facto central bank has offered to provide samples of fake banknotes that can be used as props to help production crews navigate red tape when applying to use counterfeit cash in films.

The move was disclosed by Monetary Authority deputy chief executive Howard Lee ahead of a meeting with industry representatives on Tuesday.

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“Together with the police, we will meet the film and TV industries to discuss some possible measures for streamlining the application procedures and requirements, [for example], providing some stage money samples and relevant information … to facilitate the operation of the film industry,” Lee said in an article posted on the authority’s online bulletin.

Local filmmakers had complained about the complicated and lengthy application procedure to produce and use fake money in films. In fact, many had said they were unaware of the need to apply at all.

Concerns rose after two production crew members were convicted of possession counterfeit money – although they were spared jail time. The two were in possession of notes used in the award-winning 2016 film Trivisa.

The Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers expressed “extreme outrage” at the ruling, saying it would lead to the downfall of Hong Kong’s storied film industry.

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The federation, which met Commerce and Economic Development Bureau officials last week, had also asked for a fast-track system so that an application could be processed in as little as five days, instead of two weeks under the current system.

A federation spokesman on Monday declined to comment on Tuesday’s meeting.

In the Monetary Authority article, Lee said between January 2008 and early June 2018, about 690 applications were received and 587 of them were approved. Among them, 13 applications involved stage money, and five were approved, five withdrawn and one being processed.

“The remaining two cases were rejected because the applicants did not provide sample stage money that met the size requirements, or failed to propose a proper way for disposing of the stage money after shooting,” Lee said.

He said the conviction of the two crew members last month was not about counterfeit money being used in film production. The pair were convicted after an investigation into a commercial crime in 2016.

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“The police found some 10,000 pieces of stage money in a car boot. They then traced the source to a props company where some 230,000 pieces of stage money replicating different currencies were found,” Lee said.

Many countries also have stringent controls on reproduction of currency for film or educational use. The US, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Singapore require fake currency consists of a one-sided bill.

In Hong Kong, two-sided reproduction is permitted but the replica notes must be at least 20 per cent larger or smaller than real money.