Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner responsible for Anti-Fraud said: "The fight against counterfeit money – whether coins or notes – is extremely important for both our economy and our currency. OLAF's efficiency in working with national authorities to find counterfeit euro coins and remove them from circulation is to be commended, as it has allowed us to keep the problem relatively contained in Europe. We will continue to dedicate all necessary resources to finding these fakes, in an effort to stamp out the problem across the EU."
As far as counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, around 751 000 notes were withdrawn from circulation in 2010, according to figures from the European Central Bank (ECB) which is in charge of the protection of banknotes against counterfeiting.
Although the number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation in 2010 increased by 8% compared to the year before, the Commission considers that counterfeit euro coins are not a significant cause for concern for the public. Indeed, the overall number of counterfeit coins is very small compared to the total number of around 16 billion genuine euro coins (of the three highest denominations) currently in circulation. The ratio is 1 counterfeit for every 86 000 genuine coins. In addition, counterfeit coins are rejected by properly adjusted vending, and other coin-operated, machines.
Progress made in removing counterfeit euro coins from circulation reflects the efforts made by Member States to authenticate euro coins. To assist in these efforts, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation proposed by the Commission on the authentication of euro coins. This Regulation was published on 15 December 2010 and sets out the rules for financial institutions to ensure that all euro coins which they put back into circulation are genuine.
In 2010, the Commission/OLAF carried out 17 projects for the protection of euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting, including conferences and seminars organised by either the Member States or Commission/OLAF under the Pericles programme, in collaboration with Europol and the ECB.
In January 2009 a new Central Bank of Malta directive to regulate the redistribution, sorting and reissue (i.e. ‘recycling’) of euro banknotes came into force. As a result of this directive, banks, financial institutions and professional cash handlers are not able to reissue currency they receive from the public without first subjecting that currency to stringent authenticity and quality tests according to Eurosystem-wide standards.
Through this Directive the Bank brought into force measures to implement the Eurosystem banknote recycling framework, which is the common Eurosystem regime for the detection and withdrawal from circulation of counterfeit and soiled or damaged euro banknotes. The framework is binding on all banks and professional cash handlers within the Eurosystem, and aims to preserve public trust in the authenticity and quality of currency in use.
The Central Bank of Malta says obligation to withdraw from circulation currency notes and coins believed to be counterfeit extends to any person (whether natural or legal). Any person who is in possession of a counterfeit note or coin is obliged to deliver it to the Central Bank of Malta. The Bank has the right to impose an administrative penalty on any person who is found to be in contravention of this legal obligation.
Euro notes security features: