Counterfeit Bank Notes Creating Inflation
– Says Inspector General
-Release More Details on Nigerian Caught With Counterfeit Notes
In the wake of the arrest of two Nigerians with large amounts of counterfeit banknotes, Inspector General Patrick Sudue of the Liberia National Police says counterfeiting is contributing to the increasing inflation rate in the country.
The arrest of the two men comes at a time of accelerating depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the U.S. dollar, prompting calls on the government to stabilize the economy.The U.S. dollar exchange rate has already increased by 27 percent to L$159 since the end of last year, when the exchange rate was L$125. Over the course of the entire 2017, the rate increased by less than that amount – 24.5 percent.
As a result, prices of basic commodities including gasoline and fuel have skyrocketed on the local market.
On Tuesday, July 10, Sudue announced at a press conference that the police had put into place measures aimed at apprehending individuals involved in printing and distributing counterfeit banknotes.
“The spread of counterfeit Liberian banknotes on the market is due to the lack of adequate police officers at the country’s borders point,” he said. He noted that individuals entering the country with counterfeit banknotes came through unorthodox pathways such as via canoes over rivers.
Sudue assured the public that under his administration, the police would provide the needed security to bring the current situation under control.
“It will require a significant portion of officers to provide security at the various borders,” he added. “The country’s borders are porous.”
Sudue challenged the public to aid by providing information about individuals who are involve with counterfeiting banknotes.
Meanwhile, Patrick Sudue, inspector general of the Liberia National Police, has released more information about the 30-year-old Nigerian arrested in Ganta with counterfeit Liberian bills.
Sudue said Ugochukwu Odom was accosted with L$2 million (US$12,578) in counterfeit notes, double the amount
Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, July 10 at the police headquarters, Sudue said the suspect travelled from Nigeria through Benin and Ivory Coast before coming to Liberia.
According to the inspector general, the suspect was arrested from an unnamed hotel in Ganta based on intelligence that he possessed counterfeit banknotes.
“Odom admitted to being in possession of the counterfeit banknotes during police preliminary investigation,” Sudue said.
On July 4, Odom had told reporters in Nimba shortly after his arrest that he had arranged for the counterfeit banknotes to be printed in Nigeria and brought by him to Liberia to exchange for U.S. dollars.
“I printed it in Nigeria, but I don’t know the [total] amount,” he had said. “I used 200,000 Naira [US$555] to print the money.”
Odom said he is not aware of where the money was printed in Nigeria, but said it was delivered to him following a phone call by another Nigerian man whose name he did not know.
The suspect said he got involved in the process of selling counterfeit banknotes through a friend he met that connected him to the producers. He claimed that this is his first time being involved in such a deal.
“I never do it before, this is my first time,” he said. “I don’t know what to do right now. I am confused; I don’t have anybody here.”
In June, police in Monrovia also arrested a Nigerian clergyman for possessing counterfeit U.S. banknotes. The arrest of the two men comes at a time of accelerating depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the U.S. dollar, prompting calls on the government to stabilize the economy.
Of late, there has been public outcry of counterfeit banknotes circulating on the local market. Many Liberians have attributed the worsening economy conditions to a surplus of counterfeit banknotes.