Financial crimes, counterfeiting cause of concern

Haider Al lawati –
haiderdawood@hotmail.com

Muscat Governorate Police Command of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) recently arrested two people of African nationality on charges of forging Omani currency. This crime falls into the category of organised offences committed by some groups and gangs in an organised manner.
Currency counterfeiting and forgery is a major economic concern for governments and those responsible for protecting national economies.
These crimes have not diminished since currency printing began worldwide, while counterfeiting methods and techniques are evolving with modern technologies, including state-of-the-art printing machines.
Not a day goes when we do not hear about the confiscation of large sums of currency counterfeited by these gangs, which sometimes amount to tens of millions of US dollars.
Today, with the presence of small and sensitive technologies through the use of computers and scanners along with numerous colours and types of paper, gangs come up with different ways to print and promote currency.
However, detection methods of these crimes have also evolved and are able to identify original and counterfeit banknotes.
Moreover, security features enjoyed by currencies worldwide, including Oman, are making life harder for currency forgers.
In the past few years, Oman has introduced a set of security standards and features to its national currency. The Sultanate has also established a special financial investigations unit under the AML/CFT Law promulgated by Royal Decree No 79/2010, receiving reports and information from financial institutions and other concerned entities on such cases, including currency counterfeiting.
In addition, the unit provides reporting entities and the competent regulatory authorities with the analysis and investigation results of these reports.
Banks are responsible for the detection of counterfeit currencies. In some Arab countries, banks have discovered that counterfeit currency is transferred to banks in several ways, especially by those who have large bank accounts, making them above suspicion. It is noteworthy that currency counterfeiting and forgery in the Sultanate is not a phenomenon since such cases are individual and there are no organised gangs to carry out such crimes.
The fear is that international gangs outside these borders will commit such crimes, which require enhancing security units at centres and borders to detect currency shipments arriving from abroad. This crime generates significant income to perpetrators, while experts confirm that the counterfeit currency trading process in any society has many negative effects.
It creates a large purchasing power unmatched by an increase in goods and services, leading to a decline in the purchasing power of the local currency and negatively affecting the investment climate through the loss of local and foreigner investor confidence in the national currency.
Such crimes require the presence of specialised departments and coordination between the various security, regulatory and banking entities, who shall immediately report any cases of detected fraud. It is also the responsibility of each individual to be aware of the security features and secret marks in banknotes as well as the thickness of the paper and decorations, intricate engravings, details and configurations, colours and others.
Furthermore, it is vital to hold training sessions at regular intervals for bankers on how to detect counterfeit currency using modern methods, including detection machines.
Financial crimes and currency counterfeiting are closely linked to modern communication technologies (Internet) and have a significant negative impact on the banking sector and financial data, not to mention individuals, corporations, organisations and communities as a whole because of the huge financial incurred losses.