Cablegate: Nigeria: Handling of Counterfeit U.S. Currency

Published: Tue 23 Mar 2004 03:18 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
231518Z Mar 04
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (U) Summary: An informal survey of Lagos commercial
banks and currency exchangers suggests that procedures
for handling counterfeit U.S. currency vary widely.
Official guidelines do not exist, and counterfeit notes
are rarely reported to Central Bank or law enforcement
officials. End summary.
2. (U) While some bank representatives claim they
rarely, if ever, receive counterfeit U.S. currency,
most of those surveyed say they occasionally see
counterfeit notes. In the absence of uniform handling
procedures, most banks simply perforate and return
counterfeit currency to customers. Since only one in a
handful of dollar notes may be counterfeit, bank
tellers typically make little fuss, particularly if the
customer is well known. Other bank representatives say
they detain and question customers presenting
counterfeit currency, and some invite Nigerian law
enforcement officials to investigate if customers are
uncooperative or unable to provide satisfactory
3. (U) Currency exchangers say they typically return
counterfeit currency to customers. In the past, they
perforated counterfeit notes before handing them back,
but since most customers claimed they could easily
return them to their source, this practice gradually
stopped. Groups of currency exchangers operating in
the informal market have apparently created +ACI-security
checks+ACI- by marking genuine notes in ways unique to each
particular group. Unmarked notes are treated with
suspicion until they are tested, verified, and marked
accordingly. Customers aware of this practice allay
their fears of receiving counterfeit currency by
requesting marked notes.
4. (U) None of the commercial bank representatives or
currency exchangers surveyed had any idea how many
counterfeit notes might be in circulation. The
practice of returning counterfeit currency, they say,
makes record keeping difficult.
5. (U) Post has distributed recommended guidelines for
the handling of counterfeit U.S. currency to Central
Bank officials and commercial bank representatives.
Additional recommendations may be addressed to Joseph
Sanusi, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Central
Business District, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.
Mr. Sanusi may be reached at +234-9-616-39425/39428
(phone) or +234-9-616-39904 (fax).
6. (U) Post has also created a distribution list to
facilitate information exchange with USSS Pretoria.
Lagos and Abuja economic and regional security officers
can be reached at List Abuja/Lagos Counterfeit.
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