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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 17:20 GMT
Money fakers spy a chance
euro notes
A mountain of notes and coins will be on the move
The introduction of the euro could be seized on by counterfeiters as a chance to flood Europe with fake money, Europol has warned.

"There is a real risk that more and more fake bank notes will be coming on to the market," Europol spokesman Juergen Storbeck told the BBC's Europe Today programme.

For the period when the new money is distributed - in the second half of this year - there will also be much more cash on the streets, and more opportunities for robbery.

One of those who will be involved, Steve Williams of De La Rue Cash Systems, says the pile of new money to be introduced in Germany alone would be about 50 times the height of Everest.

Awareness programme

Mr Storbeck said national governments were trying to hinder the counterfeiters by starting an "enormous awareness programme" to introduce people to the new currency.

euro notes
Crooks may want genuine euros for fake old bank notes
But he added that fake euros were not the only problem to be expected.

"I think you should not forget that counterfeiters try to use for the last time their production material for all currencies," he said.

"So we expect also an increase of counterfeiting of old currencies... in order to convert it then in this critical time into the euro."

He pointed out that the problem extended beyond the European Union to countries in Eastern and South Eastern Europe where the Deutschmark is a valid currency, and where the euro will also be introduced.

The European Central Bank will start distributing bank notes to major retail banks in September, and coins will start being distributed to the public in the second half of December.

New furniture

An even larger quantity of old coins will have be to gathered in.

According to Steve Williams it is a major exercise in logistics and storage.

"If you put all the security trucks required end to end, they would actually stretch the length of a country in Europe," he said.

"Many banks and retail organisations don't have the space to store coins or where they do have space, maybe the shelves in various bank vaults aren't strong enough.

"So many of them have plans to go around actually strengthening their furniture so they can hold the weight of coins required."

Are you ready for the euro? Write to us with your questions - Europe Today will ask an expert to answer a selection of them in April.


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Europe Today is the World Service's specialist programme for European news - about Europe, from Europe. It's on air at 1700 GMT (1800 CET) from Monday to Friday, on 648 KHz (and on FM in many European cities - check our website for frequencies).

Steve Williams of De La Rue cash systems
"There will be 15 billion notes that require distribution, and 50 billion coins"
Juergen Storbeck of Europol
"We have already tried to collect intelligence on potential counterfeiters"
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