Police arrested a 57-year-old man with nearly $30,000 in counterfeit Thai baht, Cambodian riel and US dollars in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet commune on June 26 after a two-month investigation, police said June 27.
Sek Leng was arrested for dealing the fake money, which he had bought wholesale from Thailand, said Hem Sophal, provincial minor crime police chief.
Police confiscated $12,240 all in $20 bills except for three $100 bills from Sek Leng’s home in Kbal Spoen village, Hem Sophal said.
Police also found about the equivalent of $13,000 in Thai baht and about $4,400 in riel, Hem Sophal said. Police have confiscated the suspect’s mobile phone, and have subsequently received calls from his alleged clients ordering fake currency, Hem Sophal said.
More arrests are possible, both in Poipet and Phnom Penh, he added.
“We have spent two months investigating to find the ring leaders and we hope to arrest more,” he said.
US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said in an e-mail that the US State Department was “unaware of any recent increase in the seriousness of the [counterfeiting] problem.”
US specialists have previously conducted training on detecting counterfeit US currency for employees of the Cambodian banking industry, “but there has been no recent training on this subject,” he added.
The US Secret Service agency in Bangkok, which investigates counterfeit US money, could not be immediately reached for comment. A Thai Embassy official said he was unaware of the case and declined comment.
In Channy, general manager at Acleda Bank, said he had no idea how much counterfeit money is in circulation in Cambodia. Although people used to try to pass off fake money at his bank, he said, they rarely try to do so anymore.
“Now they normally go to money changers,” he said.