High-quality fake US$100 bill found in South Korea

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SEOUL: A new high-quality counterfeit US$100 bill has been found in South Korea, bank officials said yesterday, prompting suggestions that the sanctions-hit North Korea might have resumed forging "supernotes".

Forgery specialists at KEB Hana Bank have confirmed a US$100 note found at a Seoul branch last month was a fake that was almost impossible to distinguish from real banknotes.

"It was the first of a new kind of supernote ever found in the world," Mr Yi Ho Joong, head of KEB Hana Bank's anti-counterfeit centre told AFP.

The forgery is dated 2006.

The same methods including raised and dented printing and no-smudge inks normally used for real banknotes have been applied to the supernote, he said.

"You need facilities worth US$100 million (S$135 million) to produce counterfeit bills of this quality, and no crime ring would invest that much to make fake dollars," he said.

"Only state-level organisations can afford such facilities."

South Korean news media suggested the North might have resumed producing fake banknotes to circumvent tightening international sanctions against its nuclear and missile development.

But Mr Yi said there was no evidence to link the newly found supernote to North Korea. The bank has alerted the judicial and intelligence authorities about the discovery, he added. - AFP