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Police seize millions in counterfeit money made at Bulgaria university

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By Euronews with AP and AFP
Counterfeit euros are seen at a printing office in a Sofia university. March 16, 2021.
Counterfeit euros are seen at a printing office in a Sofia university. March 16, 2021.   -   Copyright  Bulgarian Interior Ministry via AP
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Police seized high-quality forged banknotes produced at a printing office at a university in Bulgaria's capital, authorities said on Tuesday.

In a joint operation with the US Secret Service, Bulgarian police detained two people - employees at the university - and seized a printing machine and equipment for printing money, along with large amounts of counterfeit US dollars and euro notes.

“The value of the seized currency is impressive. The material evidence speaks of serious criminal activity,” Sofia police chief Georgi Hadzhiev said.

The prosecutor’s office said the amount of counterfeit money taken in was $4 million and €3.6 million.

Police believe that the two suspects are part of a larger criminal enterprise, dealing in the trafficking of counterfeit dollars to Ukraine, and euros to Western Europe.

The discovery "implies large-scale criminal activity," Lubomir Yanev, director of the department for combating organised crime, told reporters.

Bulgarian Interior Ministry via AP
Items used to print counterfeit money are seen at a printing office in a university, in Sofia. March 16, 2021.Bulgarian Interior Ministry via AP
AP Photo/ Bulgarian Prosecutor's office
Counterfeit money displayed on table at Bulgarian Prosecutor's office. March 16, 2021.AP Photo/ Bulgarian Prosecutor's office

The two suspects, a 48-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, made the fake notes after work and during holidays.

They were paid 10% of the counterfeits they produced, which at first glance was of "relatively good quality", according to Yanev.

They had no criminal record.

Sofia police said they had no proof that university officials were aware of the existence of the workshop on their premises.

According to the prosecutor's office, this is one of the biggest seizures of counterfeit money in Bulgaria.