Two suitcases crammed with counterfeit $100 bills were seized in Kuala Lumpur this week from two Iranian traders who flew in to the Malaysian capital on direct flights from Tehran. One contained 153,000 forged dollars and the second 203,000. The traders claimed they were issued the bills by tellers at the Iranian central bank CBI to finance their business transactions and had no notion they had not been dealt genuine greenbacks.
debkafile’s sources report that alert local businessmen spotted the fake currency despite its quality workmanship when they used it to pay for their purchases.
According to a Malaysian source, the bills were finely printed on special paper. The initial investigation identified the paper as made in China especially for use in printing currency and a supply recently reached Iran.
Malaysian authorities have not identified the Iranian traders who were taken in custody except by their initials – H.M. and A. G.
Kuala Lumpur finds itself in the middle of an international scandal developing around the affair and involving the US, China and Iran. The Iranian embassy is leaning hard on the government to keep it hushed up, threatening to cut off commercial ties if the story is made public, or if the two traders are forced to stay in the country until the legal proceedings take their course.
Tehran fears the embarrassment attending disclosure of its suspected traffic in counterfeit US currency as the April 13 date approaches for important nuclear negotiations with the six world powers. Iran would find itself badly compromised on world financial markets on top of the difficulties it already faces as a result of the tough international financial sanctions clamped down by America and Europe.
debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that American undercover agents are in Malaysia trying to get hold of some of the fake bills on order to have them tested in their US laboratories for clues to their provenance. They could then be compared with other forged $100 bills seized last year in several Middle Eastern countries.
Comparison with fake bills impounded recently in Iraq, for example, or in the Persian Gulf countries, might shed light on dark corners of Iran’s industry for the counterfeiting and circulation of American dollars and establish whether it is run by criminal mafias or clandestine elements tied to the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Chinese secret agents have also arrived to track the paper’s trail to Iran The special paper used for the dollar bills seized in Kuala Lumpur is exported from China only under special license..
Evidence that the Islamic regime of Iran was responsible for the wholesale forgery of the emblematic American dollar would have harsh consequences. Washington would not pull its punches and would convince a widening circle of world governments to step up sanctions against Tehran for the crime of undermining international currency.
Since the international money transfer firm SWIFT severed its ties with most of Iran’s banks, the traders have had to travel abroad in person carrying suitcases full of cash for contracting their business operations.
Five months ago, Western intelligence circles issued a warning that Iran would try and overcome the shortage of available foreign currency reserves caused by sanctions by printing counterfeit $100 bills.
In 2010, when US forces were still present in Iraq, they captured several million American dollars suspected to have been forged in Iran and smuggled into Iraq.
In 2010, the US Federal Reserve Board had a new $100 bill designed to defeat counterfeiters. Its release was delayed by printing defects.