Money forgery: Tanzania adds security features to new bank notes

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Tanzania has released reprinted versions of several denominations of the country’s banknotes. The new banknotes are meant to be more secure against duplication and forgery.

The new security features include the removal of the classic thin stripe in the old banknote, called the motion thread and replacing it with a rolling star.

The former security feature (the motion thread) used a motion image that had special colour effects when the note is moved side to side.

The new feature now, the rolling star, also has a movement and color change trait, but makes wavy motions when the note is tilted.

The central bank, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) announced early April that the change affects denominations of TZS 2000, 5000 and 10000.

The last time the BoT changed the country’s banknotes was in 2010. The central bank’s Governor Professor Florens Luoga explained in a press statement that the re-printed banknotes will also have new signatures for the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango and his own.

As for now, all other security features on all other banknotes are to remain the same and the said security changes are only for the said denominations while all others will not have any changes.

In the meanwhile, the current notes will continue to be used concurrently with the new ones but banks will continue to collect them to remove them from circulation.

The Central Bank is now working on an awareness campaign to inform the public on the new look and security features of the reprinted banknotes. Descriptions of the new security features will be issued across all financial institutions in the country.

The Central Bank also issued strict warning against counterfeiting and forgery of bank notes as a grievous criminal offence that constitute economic sabotage.

Already, this year, several arrest have been made across several regions of the country including in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Kigoma.

The new notes have been released just months after a government public warning of proliferation of counterfeit banknotes. The government warned that there is a spread of denominations of 10,000/-, 5,000/- and 100 US dollar banknotes in various regions of the country.

Finance and Planning Minister Dr Phillip Mpango issued the warning back in January saying production and supply of counterfeit notes constitutes economic sabotage and attracts strict legal action.

Seconding the warning, the Bank of Tanzania (B oT) governor, Professor Florens Luoga said the bank is holding public awareness campaigns to increase public knowledge of genuine versus fake currency banknotes.

He also warned that proliferation of counterfeits causes inflation and lowers the value of the country’s money.

Tanzania has the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2006 and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FlU) is responsible to receive and analyze reports of suspicious transactions and counterfeit suspects.

This law is very strict and covers  even enjoying of proceeds of a predicate offence while the suspect  “…knows or ought to know or ought to have known that the property… or participates in, associates with, conspires to commit, attempts to commit, aids and abets, or facilitates and counsels the commission of any money laundering or counterfeiting.”

Any person who contravenes the provisions …will be sentenced to a fine or up to five years in prision.

Understanding counterfeit money

It is estimated that some $147 million worth of counterfeit money is in circulation across the US.

In Kenya alone, police arrested at least six people suspected to be involved in a counterfeit scam involving more than $20 million.

This incident occurred late last year at Barclays Bank in Nairobi, Kenya. Interestingly, the money was stashed in a safety deposit at the bank.

When it comes to penalty for possessing or distributing counterfeit money, South Africa has some of Africa’s toughest counterfeit money laws including 15 years in prison, that is the same as the law in the US. This includes both been found guilty of possession or proliferation of counterfeit money.

As for Canada counterfeit cases attract penalties of up to fourteen years behind bars.

Some of the most lenient laws against counterfeiting money are found in Europe.  Counterfeit money in Europe has a penalty of only four years in jail, but have very high fees and fines.  Australia has the most soft laws on counterfeiting across the world, in the outback country, counterfeiting will only be punished with just two years in jail.

Bank note security features

  • Watermark image viewable only when held up to the light and that does not reproduce on copy papers
  • A security thread running through the banknote paper .
  • High quality paper that provides special texture of the paper
  • Print quality – The fineness of the print quality on a genuine banknote is difficult for current scanning equipment to resolve properly. Intaglio printing, where thick ink lends a raised surface to the print surface, is difficult to reproduce cheaply.

Measures against counterfeits

To avoid receiving fake or counterfeit banknotes, take the following precautionary measures whenever you receive banknotes:

  • Study the security features announced by the Central Bank
  • Check the banknotes by holding up to the light
  • Feeling for the intaglio printing
  • Flick the banknote and listen for the characteristic sound
  • If in doubt of a forgery, don’t accept it.

Giza Mdoe is an experienced journalist with 10 plus years. He's been a Creative Director on various brand awareness campaigns and a former Copy Editor for some of Tanzania's leading newspapers. He's a graduate with a BA in Journalism from the University of San Jose.

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