Police in Ratanakkiri province confiscated about $1,250-worth of counterfeit riel in O’Yadaw and Banlung districts Sunday, and arrested a man for allegedly distributing the fake currency, officials said Tuesday.
Hor Ang, deputy provincial police chief, said a Vietnamese national identified only as Doeuk, 51, was arrested in O’Yadaw district while allegedly trying to use the fake riel to purchase cashew nuts from Jarai ethnic minority farmers. Doeuk’s unidentified wife fled to Vietnam, he said.
It is estimated that the couple distributed a total of $2,500-worth of counterfeit 10,000 riel notes inside Cambodia, Hor Ang said. Police are investigating to find where the fake bills are being printed, as well as searching for the remaining counterfeit bills, he said.
“We can’t disclose who is behind this trade, yet,” he said. “We are investigating the case in order to arrest the criminals.”
A Vietnamese Embassy official declined immediate comment on the case.
Nab Bun Heng, Ratanakkiri provincial cabinet chief, said the fake riel notes are easy to identify as they are thinner, slicker, the wrong color and depict an incorrect image of the face of retired King Norodom Sihanouk.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said the ministry is concerned about the negative effect that fake currency could have on the economy.
“It will impact the local economy because those [counterfeit] riel notes are not issued by our National Bank of Cambodia,” he added.
Tal Nay Im, director general for the National Bank of Cambodia, said she does not know where the fake currency originated but that, in previous cases, fake currency has been produced by computers rather than on printing presses.
“I don’t have clear information on the counterfeit riel,” she said.