Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Police confiscate more fake American dollar

JAKARTA (JP): City police detectives arrested four men at two separate locations on Thursday for possession of counterfeit American dollars totaling $15,000, a police source said.

According to the officer, who requested anonymity, the arrests were to be announced at a media conference, but the conference was canceled because police were still searching for the main suspect in the case.

The source said the arrests were made following a tip-off the police received a few days earlier about a planned transaction of counterfeit banknotes on Thursday near the Depok bus terminal, south of here.

"During the raid at the terminal, the police caught two men who were exchanging $300 in fake banknotes for Rp 1 million ($135)," he said.

Based on information received from the two suspects, police raided a house in Kalibata, South Jakarta, and discovered a bundle of counterfeit U.S. dollars worth US$14,700, he said.

All of the counterfeit money was in the form of $100 banknotes.

"So far, the leads to the main suspect have been cut off," the officer said.

Last week, police officers and customs officials in the capital and the nearby town of Bogor confiscated counterfeit rupiah and dollar banknotes totaling Rp 5 billion and $16,000 in several raids.

Bank Indonesia said on Wednesday the amount of counterfeit rupiah banknotes in circulation over the past three years was relatively small compared to the total number of counterfeit bills seized by the police.

The central bank's director for banknote supervision, H.Y. Susmanto, said the counterfeit rupiah notes in circulation last year reached Rp 6.17 billion, equivalent to about 0.01 percent of the total Rp 50.4 trillion of banknotes in circulation.

But he said the bank did not have any information for the first three months of 2000.

"We don't have the figures for the early part of this year yet. But I think the ratio is small," he said at a media conference.

Separately, South Jakarta Police are still searching for three suspects connected with last week's arrest of six men in possession of counterfeit Rp 50,000 and Rp 20,000 banknotes, totaling some Rp 3 billion. The three were identified as Shyam Indriyadi, Bambang and Setiyo.

During the operation, police also found a printing machine, paper and several other items used to counterfeit banknotes, including a dryer, paints and printing slides, at the house of arrested suspect Heri Chaeruddin in Ciomas, Bogor.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Heri said that on Dec. 15 last year, Shyam gave him a printing machine and asked him to print fake Rp 50,000 rupiah notes totaling Rp 350 million.

He quoted Shyam as saying the order came from a bank in the capital.

Shyam said the counterfeit notes had to be authentic enough to pass inspection by ultraviolet lamps, Heri said

After receiving this order, Heri said he contacted Bambang for assistance. He said Bambang provided him with paper which was used to print official documents.

Heri said he was ready to put the finishing touches on the Rp 3 billion worth of counterfeit banknotes, such as adding the serial numbers, embossing the holograms and adding the official ribbons, when he was arrested on Thursday last week by South Jakarta's Jagakarsa Police.

A former employee of the Bogor administration, Heri said he had been obsessed with producing perfect counterfeit banknotes since learning last year about the alleged circulation of rupiah banknotes which were authentic in every detail, except they used serial numbers which had already been used.

He said he was told that unknown parties had produced billions of rupiah of the so-called uang ganda, allegedly for the benefit of a politician.

"Rp 1 million of real money could be exchanged for Rp 1.5 million (of these notes)," Heri said.

He then searched several areas in Central Java, including Kudus, Surakarta and Yogyakarta, to find the parties which had produced the illegal notes.

"But I could not find them. I was so frustrated that finally I learned the art of perfectly making counterfeit money," Heri said.

The suspect, who was previously arrested but later released by Bogor Police for the same crime, claimed to have handed over Rp 900,000 of real money to a Bogor Police sergeant.

"It was a gift to him, but suddenly I was released; it was not my decision," Heri said.

The Bogor City Police chief of detectives recently was relieved of his duties for releasing Heri. (ylt)