The cases which mainly emerged in the Western region involved fake notes in both the local currency and foreign currency.
According to the Central Bank, one of the top tricks used by fraudsters during the shady practice is to mix genuine banknotes and counterfeit money.
“They normally make payments in large sums of money (bundle of 100 or 1000 banknotes) but they mix genuine banknotes and counterfeiting money,” said the Central Bank adding, that it’s the reason every bill must pass through a counting machine or be manually verified.
However, the Central Bank pointed out that counterfeiters will in most cases not take their money to financial institutions including banks, because they have got money detection machines.
“Counterfeiters avoid to bring these fake money at banks, because they know the counting machines will detect them. Most of the time they sell the fake notes at places where no one will bother with verification,” the regulator said.
The common places according to the Central Bank include public markets, bars, supermarkets and night clubs.
According to the National Bank of Rwanda, there is need for increased awareness as well as vigilance in order to curb the practice.
“The National Bank of Rwanda, through its various media platforms has put videos and content as a form of awareness directed to the general public, on banknotes security features that include the note watermark, the sparks, as well as the security threads,” the regulator said in a statement.
“The others are basics of banknotes features such as, paper feeling, colour, design that must be known by the public. This is done as an awareness to the public so that they may not be deceived by these fraudsters,” Central Bank said in response to The New Times.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank noted that the institution is working with law enforcement bodies to ensure that any suspected banknotes detected goes under investigation and the counterfeiters get arrested and punished as provided by the law.
No threat to the local market
According to the Central Bank, the illegal practice doesn’t pose a threat to the local market as it stands in the country.
“No. it’s far from becoming a threat to the local market. Generally counterfeiting starts becoming a threat when its ratio goes beyond 1% of million banknotes in circulation,” the Central Bank said.
“Our ratio of counterfeiting in Rwanda is far below from the 1 per cent. It can’t be a worthwhile business, as the cost of counterfeiting Rwandan francs at best, is higher than the value of the banknote itself,”
“Our highest banknote denomination is Rwf 5,000 (Almost 5$). Our Banknotes are embedded with many security features that can’t be easily counterfeited; so we do not foresee this becoming a threat anytime soon, much as the country is also investing and promoting less use of cash,” they added.
BNR also reiterated that the provision of Article 269 of the Law on offences and penalties in force states that: “Any person who, fraudulently counterfeits, falsifies or alters coins or bank notes which are legal tender in Rwanda or abroad, notes issued by the Treasury with its stamp or brand, either banknotes or alike that have legal tender in Rwanda or abroad, or one who introduces or issues in Rwanda such effects or notes with knowledge that they are forged or falsified, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than five (5) years and not more than seven (7) years.
However, If the offence is committed at the international level, the applicable penalty is an imprisonment term of more than seven (7) years and not more than ten (10) years and a fine of not less than seven million Rwandan francs (FRW 7,000,000) and not more than ten million Rwandan francs (FRW 10,000,000).
Similarly, any person who knowingly acquires or receives coins or notes knowing that it is falsified, even if he/she is not one of counterfeiters or importers of such monies commits an offence.
Upon conviction, the person is liable to imprisonment for a term not less than one (1) year and not more than three (3) years.