North Korean Counterfeiting of U.S. Currency
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The United States has accused the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea DPRK or North Korea of counterfeiting U.S. 100 Federal Reserve notes supernotes and passing them off in various countries. This is one of several illicit activities by North Korea apparently done to generate foreign exchange that is used to purchase imports or finance government activities abroad. Although Pyongyang denies complicity in any counterfeiting operation, at least 45 million in such supernotes of North Korean origin have been detected in circulation, and estimates are that the country earns from 15 to 25 million per year from counterfeiting. The illegal nature of any counterfeiting activity makes open source information on the scope and scale of DPRK counterfeiting and distribution operations incomplete. South Korean intelligence has corroborated information on North Korean production of forged currency prior to 1998, and certain individuals have been indicted in U.S. courts for distributing such forged currency. Media reports in January 2006 state that Chinese investigators have independently confirmed allegations of DPRK counterfeiting. For the United States, North Korean counterfeiting represents a direct attack on a protected national asset might undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar and depress its value and, if done extensively enough, potentially damage the U.S. economy. The earnings from counterfeiting also could be significant to Pyongyang, and may be used to purchase weapons technology, fund travel abroad, meet slush fund purchases of luxury foreign goods, or even underwrite the DPRKs nuclear program. U.S. policy toward the alleged counterfeiting is split between law enforcement efforts and political and diplomatic pressures. On the law enforcement side, individuals have been indicted and the Banco Delta Asia bank in Macao a territory of China has been named as a primary money laundering concern under the Patriot Act.
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