Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is now urging members of the public to report any counterfeit currency they encounter.
Al Rawi was asked by Guardian Media at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, what his office could do about several reports of counterfeit polymer $100 bills in circulation.
He insisted that the Finance Minister and the Central Bank never said that the polymer $100 bill is immune to counterfeit.
“There have always been counterfeits from time immemorial. One should always be careful to inspect what you have. It was never said by the Central Bank or the Minister of Finance that the polymer note was incapable of people trying a fast one. What the Central Bank, the Minister and the producers of the notes said is that has more security features which you can rely upon to ensure against counterfeiting,” Al Rawi said.
He said he is encouraging people to report any counterfeit currency they have in their possession so law enforcement agencies can go to work.
He said in other parts of the world, merchants arm themselves with the equipment necessary to check for counterfeit bills and T&T citizens have that same ‘positive obligation.’
“You must expect ‘smartmanism’ and counterfeiting to always be a feature of our society, what the government can do is make it harder and harder for that to happen by improving security features,” he said.
The AG’s statement came a day after Finance Minister Colm Imbert, responding to a question in Parliament, saying he was told by the Bankers’ Association of T&T (BATT) that reports of counterfeit bills in circulation were ‘misinformation.’
Guardian Media contacted BATT yesterday and sent a list of questions via email. However, up until 6 pm, we received no response.
Guardian Media also reached out to the Central Bank yesterday but there was no response to questions sent via email.
On Monday, a vendor of the Central Market in Port-of-Spain reported receiving a fake polymer note in a wad of real $100 bills while selling produce at the market. The vendor gave the bill to Guardian Media on Monday and it was later returned to him. On Tuesday, a BATT executive member met with a Guardian Media news team, presenting four fake polymer notes. Two of those bills were printed on a high gloss paper and the other two on regular paper.
All five bills had replicas of a transparent window in the top left of the bill and an X in braille on the bottom right.
Those two features were included in the real polymer note to ensure counterfeiters would not be able to duplicate it.
None of those four counterfeit bills glowed under an ultraviolet (UV) light when put to the test – a major indication that they were fakes.