THE Bank of Namibia says while it cannot rule out the possibility of the existence of counterfeit currency in the market, the country continues to record low volumes and incidents of counterfeit notes.
Statistics from the 2016/17 financial year showed that counterfeit currency detected decreased to 277 pieces, compared with 465 pieces recorded in the 2015/16 financial year.
These figures are from the latest records made available to The Namibian last Friday by central bank deputy director of corporate communications Kazembire Zemburuka.
He explained that as of 31 December 2016, the ratio of counterfeits per million in respect of all Namibia dollar banknote denominations stood at six pieces of counterfeits per million banknotes in circulation. This is below the international threshold of 70 pieces per one million banknotes. The six pieces of counterfeits were also below the bank's own threshold of 10 pieces per one million banknotes.
As for the 277 pieces of counterfeits detected during the 2016/17 financial year, their face value amounted to N$44 820.
"The quality of the counterfeits discovered continues to be poor, and therefore knowing the security features of the Namibian currency will easily prevent counterfeiters from defrauding unsuspecting members of the public," Zemburuka said.
Last week, The Namibian published a story about counterfeiters allegedly targeting children to launder fake money. This was after a Swakopmund pupil was requested by an adult for change for a N$50 note (which was obviously fake - but maybe not to the untrained eye). The child ended up with the fake note, while the 'changer' (unsuspecting or not) ended up with real money.
The note was handed over to the police, who said it would be sent to the BoN for further investigation.
Members of the public are reminded to follow the three basic steps in checking the security features on bank notes.
Step 1: 'Look' (take a careful look at the overall colours, the portraits and the serial numbers, and lift the banknotes up to light for the perfect see-through features and watermarks);
Step 2: 'Tilt' (this involves flipping the banknotes to check for colour-changing, dynamic features, and for glossy prints. Check the multi-coloured security thread on the reverse.); and
Step 3: 'Feel' (feel the unique banknote touch and raised prints by running your fingers on both sides of the banknotes especially on the words Bank of Namibia; main portraits and the braille dots for the visually impaired.)
"We request the public to share with the police any information regarding counterfeiting activities wherever they may occur so as to protect the integrity of our currency," Zemburuka urged, warning that the law provides that where a person is convicted of an offence under Section 25 of the Bank of Namibia Act (Act 15 of 1997), subject to section 2 of the Prevention of Counterfeiting of Currency Act, 1965 (Act 16 of 1965), that person shall be liable to a fine not exceeding N$100 000, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years, or to both such fine and imprisonment."