World Economy

Millions of Fake Euros Found in Bulgaria

Police divers in Bulgaria have discovered about €13 million ($14.43 million) in fakePolice divers in Bulgaria have discovered about €13 million ($14.43 million) in fake

Police divers in Bulgaria have discovered about €13 million ($14.43 million) in fake banknotes hidden in a reservoir. Officials said bundles of counterfeit €500 notes were found after a tip-off.

The exact size of the haul will not be known until the notes are fully dried, EIN reported.

Three Bulgarians have been arrested and a number of weapons seized. One of the people arrested, the owner of a printing company, had already been sentenced to six years in prison for counterfeiting money.

Chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said the find was "one of the largest amounts of counterfeit euros ever encountered". He said the fakes were "of an extremely high quality". But another official said some of them did not carry holograms.

It happened at the Mechka reservoir near the town of Purvomai in southern Bulgaria.

The European Central Bank is due to phase out the €500 note because of fears that it helps criminal activities.

As per reports, one of the biggest counterfeit euro print shops in Europe has been dismantled in Poland in October 2011.

In 2013, Portuguese police seized €380,000 in fake €200 notes of "exceptional quality".

In last May, The European Central Bank said it will no longer produce the €500 note because of concerns it could facilitate illegal activities.

The decision came in the wake of a European Commission inquiry in February into the way the notes are used.

Senior ECB officials said at the time that they needed more evidence that the notes facilitated criminal activity.

The UK asked banks to stop handling €500 notes in 2010 after a report found they were mainly used by criminals.

The ECB said then that the €500 banknote remains legal tender and will always retain its value. It will stop issuing the note around the end of 2018, when it will bring in new €100 and €200 banknotes.

A report earlier this year for the Harvard Kennedy School, urged the world's 20 largest economies to stop issuing the largest notes in circulation—£50, $100 and €500 notes—to tackle crime.

Peter Sands, former chief executive of Standard Chartered bank, said the high-denomination notes were favored by terrorists, drug lords and tax evaders.

Illegal money flows exceed $2 trillion a year, he said.

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