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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 18:23 GMT
Zimbabwean in bank note 'insult'
Zimbabwe dollar bills and bearer cheques
In Zimbabwe a match costs Z$3,000
A tourism promoter in Zimbabwe has been arrested for allegedly defacing bank notes to use as business cards.

Denis Paul is accused of insulting behaviour for handing out 10-cent Zimbabwean notes stamped with his business details at a tourism fair.

Officials say his actions in effect discouraged tourism to Zimbabwe.

Banks say the cost of printing the 10-cent notes by far exceed their face value. If found guilty, Mr Paul could face up to a year in prison.

It was not my intention to demonise the country and I gave them [the cards] only to people I knew
Denis Paul

Correspondent says the single-cent bank notes - or bearer cheques as they are known - released last year have become obsolete because of rampant inflation.

A single match stick costs Z$3,000, AP news agency reports.

Last month, Zimbabwe's chief statistician said it is impossible to work out the country's latest inflation rate because of the lack of goods in shops.

'Useless'

According Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper, Mr Paul gave out the bank notes at a World Tourism Market fair in London last month.

"It was not my intention to demonise the country and I gave them [the cards] only to people I knew," he told the paper.

But the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority alleges that Mr Paul discouraged tourism by insinuating that the country's currency was useless, the Herald says.

Mr Paul, a 41-year-old professional hunter and lodge owner from Bulawayo, believed the bearer cheques had expired, Reuters news agency reports.

The bearer cheques, introduced in the last few years to cope with inflation, have expiry dates which tend to be ignored.

The country has the world's highest inflation rate and at the official exchange rate $1 fetches Z$30,000.

This week, the black-market price rose from about Z$1m to Z$4m for $1, financial agency Bloomberg News reports.

September's inflation rate was put at almost 8,000%.

Other reports suggest the rate could be at near 15,000%.



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