EURO COIN COUNTERFEITING IN 2004

OLAF/05/01 Brussels, the 18 January 2005

In 2004 an increasing, yet low, number of counterfeit euro coins was removed from circulation by financial institutions while the police authorities continued dismantling illegal mints.

In 2004 more than 74.000 counterfeit euro coins were removed from circulation, mainly by National Central Banks. This compares with 2.339 counterfeits detected in circulation in 2002 and 26.191 in 2003. The increase in the detected counterfeits was accompanied by a rising number in the origins and types of counterfeit euro coins. However, the total number of counterfeit euro coins found in circulation is still by far lower than the overall number of counterfeit coins of legacy currencies before the introduction of the euro.

Breakdown of counterfeit euro coins found in circulation in 2002, 2003 and 2004:

No. of counterfeit coins

50-cent

1-euro

2-euro

Total

2002

28

1.281

1.030

2.339

2003

185

6.318

19.688

26.191

2004

858

9.103

64.603

74.564

In addition, according to announcements of the competent national authorities, three illegal mints were dismantled in 2004, two in Italy and one in Spain, during which over 80.000 counterfeit euro coins were seized, before circulation. The most counterfeited euro coin denomination is the 2-euro. The German national side is most frequently reproduced, followed by the sides of France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, Greece and Luxembourg. These counterfeits may be deceptive in hand-to-hand transactions, especially the 2-euro counterfeits. However, their number is small compared to the 55 billion circulating (genuine) euro coins and they are not a cause of concern for the public. Moreover, these counterfeit coins should generally be rejected by properly adjusted vending and other coin-operated machines.

As far counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, around 594.000 were withdrawn from circulation in 2004 according to the European Central Bank.

Background

In line with Regulation (EC) 1338/2001, the European Technical & Scientific Centre (ETSC) carries out the analysis classification of new stamped counterfeit euro coins. The Council decided, in December 2003, that the Commission ensures the functioning of the ETSC and the co-ordination of the activities of the competent technical authorities to protect the euro coins against counterfeiting. In October 2004, the Commission decided to establish formally the ETSC in the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF).

The Commission is also responsible for the implementation of the 'Pericles' programme for training and technical assistance for the protection of the euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting. The Commission prepares legislative initiatives and monitors the implementation of the relevant legislation.

In carrying out its responsibilities regarding the protection of the euro against counterfeiting, the Commission (OLAF) collaborates closely with the European Central Bank (ECB), Europol and the National Competent Authorities.

For further information : euro pagesAll available translations. on our website.

Ana Paula LAISSY
Spokesperson
Tel : +32 (0)2 2953298

Ingeborg GASPARD
Press Officer, Administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud
Tel : +32 (0)2 2952210

Alessandro Butticé
Spokesman of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.8101

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