Police Say US Experts Join Counterfeit Cash Probe

Police in Battambang province said they met with experts from the U.S. government on Thursday to discuss an ongoing investigation into more than $7 million in what is believed to be counterfeit U.S. notes seized from three Thai nationals in the province last month.

On September 19, police arrested Chamras Pongsart, 52; Pramote Raisiri, 48; and Kittithamet Meethekulsawat, 47, while the trio was trying to exchange $7,160,000—all in $100 U.S. notes—with undercover Cambodian officers shortly after crossing the O’Romduol border checkpoint in Phnom Proek district.

Mr. Pramote and Mr. Kittithamet were charged with transporting counterfeit currency and sent to pretrial detention in the provincial prison. Mr. Pongsart, a captain in the Thai marines, was released after police decided he was not involved in the transaction, despite his being present when the exchange took place.

Aun Hvay, the provincial serious crimes police chief, said top police in the province met on Thursday with three U.S. experts based in Bangkok, two officials from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh and Thai officials.

“The experts told us that they had been following the illegal circulation of this money for more than two years,” Mr. Hvay said. “They said this money was printed using a first-grade printer from the U.S.”

Deputy provincial police chief Chet Vanny said the experts offered little insight into their investigations of the counterfeit cash ring, but left no doubt that the money was fake.

“The experts told us that this money was not taken from the bank but was printed in Thailand,” Mr. Vanny said, adding that the U.S. investigators said the money was printed using sophisticated methods that were also used to create fake U.S. notes that have been seized in Malaysia.

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to a request for comment.

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