Municipal anti-drug authorities on Tuesday seized 150,000 baht ($3,750) in counterfeit bills from an alleged middleman involved with anti-government forces on the border, police said.
Police arrested Nget Moa, 29, on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard while the man was attempting to exchange the 500 baht bills, Ou Vanna, Phnom Penh anti-drug police chief, said Wednesday.
Nget Moa confessed to using the money to support anti-government forces on the border, according to Ou Vanna.
Police began watching for alleged counterfeiters after market exchange vendors, who routinely get approached with fake bills, complained to police, he said.
The counterfeiters apparently transport the fake bills across various checkpoints along Cambodia’s western border with Thailand and exchanged them for hard currency in Phnom Penh, said Chan Kosal, provincial police chief for Battambang province.
While this is the second counterfeit arrest of this size this year, hordes of fake bills are carried across the border to Phnom Penh everyday, Chan Kosal said.
Anti-drug police said counterfeit money seized this year includes US dollars, baht and riel.
Battambang police are continuing to investigate the source of the bogus bills and are looking into tightening security at border checkpoints at Pailin, Poipet and Malai, Chan Kosal said. Authorities said Wednesday they believe this batch of fake Thai baht are being printed in Thailand.
Cambodian officials working on international crime issues have stated in the past that the counterfeit notes, particularly US bills, are a problem in Cambodia.
A Japanese Red Army terrorist was arrested in Phnom Penh in early 1996 for allegedly using fake US dollars. Yoshimi Tanaka had been given more than $3 million in false $100 bills to launder in Cambodia and other countries in Southeast Asia, according to a report in Newsweek magazine.
Tanaka spent much of 1995 in a central Phnom Penh hotel, Interpol officials said at the time. He was apprehended in Cambodia for allegedly using false money in Thailand.