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Drop in seized counterfeit euro banknotes

Number of fake euro banknotes withdrawn from circulation falls to 251,000; lowest amount of fake notes found since 2003.

A total of 251,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation during the first half of 2012, the European Central Bank (ECB) said earlier this week.

The figure shows a 19% decline on the previous six-month period, and a 15.2% decline on the amount recorded for the first half of 2011. The latest number of seized banknotes represents the lowest figure since 2003, when 231,000 notes were retrieved in the first half of the year.

However, the ECB stressed that compared to the number of genuine euro banknotes in circulation (about 14.6 billion during the first half of 2012), the proportion of counterfeits remained "very low".

As in 2011, the most commonly counterfeited notes were the €20 and €50 denominations, with the total proportion of €20 notes falling to 42.5% from 47.5% in the second half of 2011, and the proportion of €50 notes rising slightly to 34.5% from 32.5%. The next most common note to be faked was the €100 denomination. The ECB said 17% of the total was made up of these notes, while the remaining 6% was made up of counterfeit €5, €10, €200 and €500 notes.

As in previous years, the majority of notes (97.5%) were found in eurozone countries. Only 2% were found in other European Union countries and 0.5% in the rest of the world.

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