The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the New Taipei City District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday announced that they had broken up a counterfeiting ring, detained five suspects and seized forged US currency which had reportedly fooled some local banks.
Raids carried out over the past month had seized a total of US$11.04 million in counterfeit US$100 bills, making it one of the largest forgery cases in the nation’s history, CIB investigator Hsu Chao-pin (徐釗斌) said.
The forged notes were of high quality, with the smaller detectors used in some local banks indicating they were authentic, although the bills could not trick larger, standard detectors, CIB Forensic Examination Division head Yeh Chia-yu (葉家瑜) said.
Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times
Because of the sophisticated printing and engraving technology used, the bureau invited a US Secret Service specialist in counterfeit money to travel to Taiwan from Hong Kong to examine the forged notes, Yeh said.
The examination showed that the seized banknotes were from the same batch as money seized in a 2006 case where a Taipei branch of Mega Bank (兆豐銀行) lost NT$66 million (US$2.16 million at the current exchange rate) due to forged US$100 bills, Yeh said.
Nine people had been arrested and tried for the 2006 counterfeit operation, but prosecutors would not rule out that the two cases are related, with those detained over the past month also having been involved in the earlier case.
Last night, a judge ruled that a man surnamed Liao (廖), 64, the apparent leader of the counterfeit ring, as well as a man surnamed Chueh (闕), 58, and three other suspects should remain in detention due to the seriousness of the crime, as well as the risk they would flee the country, collude and tamper with the evidence, Hsu said.
Prosecutors said the suspects could be charged with counterfeiting valuable securities under the Criminal Code.
After receiving tip-offs, investigators put the group under surveillance and tracked their movements over six months, before conducting four raids over the past month, detaining suspects in Taipei, New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重), Taoyuan and Changhua County.
Besides the fake US$100 bills, the raids also netted a batch of fake US dollar straps — bands for holding a single denomination of notes together — along with the engraving ink used, but Hsu said that they did not find the engraving molds or printing presses.
Liao produced the bills and passed them on to Chueh, who allegedly sold the forged bills to friends at local markets for NT$350 to NT$450 each, investigators said, adding that Chueh told the buyers that the bills would pass for the real thing at currency exchange oulets in foreign nations.
Chueh told the buyers that it was best to spend or exchange the bills at casinos, gambling dens, hotels and entertainment clubs in Southeast Asian nations, investigators said.
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