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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 44, October 28, 2007, Article 25

A BIZARRE BANK OF ENGLAND COUNTERFEIT TALE

The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week on the plight 
of an Australian grandfather who got involved somehow in 
a scheme involving counterfeit Bank of England notes.

"British police say Ross Cowie is the audacious frontman 
of a counterfeit gang that sought to defraud the Bank of 
England out of $64 billion. His Australian family says 
the 62-year-old grandfather is a patsy.

"In this instance, Cowie's associates and fellow defendants 
are five Chinese nationals - and a New Zealander still at 
large. It's not disputed Cowie was their point man.

"The question to be settled over the next six weeks in 
Southwark Crown Court is whether or not Cowie was suckered 
into believing a story so crazy it could never, as it turned 
out, be true. To wit, six Chinese people, aged between 109 
and 116 years, had been hoarding 28billion from pre-Communist 
days. They had decided to exchange the money for modern notes 
and share it among their offspring.

"The yarn goes from quirky to quackery with claims that 
the cash included a small mountain of 1000 notes, which 
were in circulation until 1943 - and only 63 are said to 
remain outside the bank's vaults - and the inclusion of 
hundreds of special issue 500,000 notes that, in fact, 
never existed.

"On Friday, the court was told the alleged conspiracy started 
in December last year when Cowie sent an email to James Higgins, 
team leader of counter services at the Bank of England. Cowie 
said he was representing several Chinese families who owned 
rare cash with an issue date of 1933.

"'Can you confirm 1000 bank notes were in circulation in 
the 1930s and, assuming they are genuine, are redeemable 
for current bank notes?' was the polite inquiry.

"In his reply, Mr Higgins confirmed the notes did exist, 
and outlined the process to redeem them.

"In January Cowie sent a follow-up email, explaining that 
'the family have been holding back a little and giving a 
little information to see how things develop  while they 
do have those 1000 notes, they also have 500,000 notes. 
They have appointed me as a power of attorney to act for them'.

"A female bank employee replied that to the bank's 
knowledge, 500,000 notes did not exist.

"Cowie responded that this caused him 'a great deal of 
concern  I will take this up with the family as the bank 
notes in my custody certainly seem to me to be the genuine 
article, not that I am any expert'.

"He said that he still planned to travel to London to 
swap the 1000 notes for smaller modern bills. 'The only 
way to check [their authenticity] is to present them, so 
we will proceed on that basis, if that's OK,' he wrote.

"On February 14, Cowie and a number of associates travelled 
to the Bank of England's neo-classical premises in London. 
They met a man who introduced himself as William Hickson, 
a Bank of England employee. In fact he was an undercover 
policeman and the meeting was being secretly taped.

"Following a further meeting in March, Cowie was arrested, 
along with his alleged co-conspirators - Ping Shuen Mak, 
56; Kim Ming Teo, 41; Kwok Kwong Chan, 55; Chi Kuen Chung, 
53, and Chin Daniel Lim, 50."

To read the complete article (and view an image of one 
of the 500,000 pound notes), see: 
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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