Paper Money

Chinese training money unwelcome in Canada

Judge rules that copies of Bank of Canada notes intended for training use in China are counterfeit and unwelcome in Canada.

Image courtesy of Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Different systems interpret things differently.

A little over a month ago, police in Lewiston, Idaho, were presented with copies of Federal Reserve notes imprinted with Chinese characters identifying it as “training money.” The notes are not intended for use in commerce, though it was reported that in the United States at least, they were not considered counterfeit. It was legal to to own them, but not spend them.

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Just to the north, across the border in Saksatoon, Alberta, a provincial court judge had a different opinion in ruling issued on Nov. 12. Judge Quentin Douglas Agnew ruled in a convoluted decision, that despite the Chinese characters printed on training versions of Bank of Canada notes, the notes still qualified as counterfeits under Canadian law.

Police reports said that the Chinese characters are in contrasting colors to those of the bills, and translate as “not to be used as real currency” and “bills to be used as counting practice.”

The judge cited Monopoly money in his determination. He said, “Even if a person has Monopoly money in their pocket, separate and apart from the game to which it is associated, no one would suggest that they are in possession of counterfeit money.” But, he went on, the CBC says, to infer that “the opposite end of the argument would be someone carrying a near-perfect replica of Canadian money. Such a person would clearly be guilty of possession of counterfeit money.”

As a basis for his verdict, the judge relied on evidence provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that 9,000 such notes of various denominations were spent in Canada in 2017.

The judge wrote, “All of the listed harms of counterfeiting ultimately arise from the false money being passed as genuine. Accordingly, a piece of paper or a coin will constitute counterfeit money if it is reasonably possible that it will be accepted in a commercial transaction by a person of ordinary prudence and vigilance.”

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