Sep 19, 2014 8:50 PM

Cambodian police bust Thais with $7M in fake bills

The Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) Cambodian police on Friday arrested three Thai men whom they accused of carrying counterfeit U.S. $100 bills with a face value of $7.16 million.

It appeared to be the biggest-ever seizure of counterfeit money in Cambodia, where dollars are commonly used for financial transactions.

Police Maj. Song Sopheak said authorities had been tipped off and followed the men's car after it crossed the border into the northwestern province of Battambang. He said the fake banknotes had been packed in three boxes.

While Cambodian police described the bills as counterfeit, it is possible they are mock bills, of the sort used in Chinese and other Asian cultures in ceremonies to honor the dead, by making offerings of sham material goods that are burned as an offering to ancestors. Cambodia's annual Pchum Ben festival, which begins Monday, incorporates such ceremonies.

But there have been several recent cases of counterfeit bills. In October 2012, three Cambodian men were arrested for allegedly planning to smuggle millions of counterfeit dollars into Cambodia, reportedly in collusion with Thai businessmen. A year earlier, two Thai men were arrested in Banteay Meanchey, another northwestern province, after allegedly smuggling $430,000 in fake bills from Thailand.

Song Sopheak said the suspects are being held in the police station of Battambang's Phnom Proek district for questioning.

The men face a prison term of 5 to 10 years if convicted of trafficking counterfeit currency.


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