Six held over euro coins racket
Published 31/03/2011 | 12:52
Six people have been arrested on suspicion of netting six million euro (£5.3 million) by having scrapped euro coins reassembled in China then cashing them in at Germany's central bank, prosecutors have said.
Frankfurt prosecutor Doris Moeller-Scheu said the group was suspected of collecting 29 tons of eliminated one and two-euro coins and exchanging them at the Bundesbank between 2007 and 2010.
Higher-value euro coins are made up of a nickel inner centre surrounded by an outer ring, and as part of the scrapping process the two parts of the coin are separated. Prosecutors said that in China, "the centre and the ring were reassembled and exchanged at the Bundesbank as allegedly damaged coins".
Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, is the only financial institute in Europe that allows old or damaged coins to be exchanged without charge, prosecutors said.
Four flight attendants, "who have no weight limits on their luggage", are among those suspected of taking part in the scheme by carting the reassembled coins back to Germany, Ms Moeller-Scheu said. The coins had been sold to China as scrap metal.
Ms Moeller-Scheu said four of the six detained were Chinese immigrants. No Bundesbank employees are among the suspects.
Authorities are investigating them on suspicion of fraud and bringing counterfeit money into circulation.