BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Police seized fake bank notes with a total face value of more than 214 million yuan (S$44 million) late last year, after cracking the biggest counterfeiting case in China's modern history, a senior police official said.
Fourteen suspects, allegedly from a criminal gang, were detained and a large number of semi-finished counterfeit bills as well as printing equipment were seized after a production site and warehouse were raided, said deputy director-general Lin Weixiong of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security.
"The case is regarded by the Ministry of Public Security as the country's largest counterfeiting case since the founding of New China in 1949," Mr Lin said at a news conference on Tuesday (Jan 16) in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.
Mr Wu Yilai, deputy director of the provincial department's Economic Crime Investigation Bureau, said the busts were a heavy blow to counterfeiters.
"Guangdong comes first in terms of both the incidence and the clearance rate of counterfeiting cases in the country," Mr Wu said. "Big profits from counterfeiting have encouraged criminals to risk it."
A fake bank note with a face value of 100 yuan now sells for six yuan, compared with only two to three yuan about three years ago, according to the officer in charge of the case.
The officer, who declined to be named, said a special task force was set up after police learnt that a gang headed by a resident surnamed Hu had leased a warehouse as a printing facility in Zhongshan in March last year.
After several months of investigation, police raided the site in the second half of last year, detaining five suspects in addition to Hu, 40.
The clandestine workshop in Zhongshan's Shaxi township, of about 200 sq m, was equipped with sound-deadening equipment, the officer said. Many partially finished bills, materials and equipment were also seized, he said.
At the same time, police also detained another eight suspects and seized a huge cache of fake bills at a warehouse in Shanwei. The suspects were negotiating the sale of their merchandise when police broke in.
None of the finished counterfeit bank notes had reached the public at the time of the busts, the officer added.
Police across Guangdong detained more than 15,000 suspects in 49 special operations launched last year.
Also seized were 16.4 tonnes of different kinds of drugs, 9,300 stolen mobile phones and other property.