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Police dismantle counterfeit money-makers, nab 44 in Europe

[PARIS] European police have dismantled a counterfeit money printing gang with links to a mafia clan, arresting 44 people, including a grandson of French acting icon Catherine Deneuve.

Igor Divetain was one of three suspects arrested in France, a source close to the case said.

Forty suspects were also arrested in Italy, and one in Belgium in the culmination of a years-long investigation coordinated by policing agency Europol, according to France's OCRFM, the branch of the police force dealing with counterfeiting.

Police also seized eight million euros (S$12.7 million) in cash and the same value in property.

The group had ties to the Camorra mafia clan of southern Italy, said the OCRFM.

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They are suspected of having produced counterfeit money, mainly 50-euro notes, with a face value of some 10 million euros.

"For several years now, 90 per cent of high-quality counterfeit currency (in circulation) has come from Italy," Eric Bertrand of the OCRFM told AFP.

"The Camorra have a sort of monopoly on this market."

According to a police prosecutor in Benevento, near the southern Italian city of Naples, the enquiry into the fake cash began in 2017 after numerous counterfeit 50 euro notes were found circulating in the region.

The criminal outfit produced "an excellent quality (of notes) using very sophisticated offset printing", with the end product convincing to touch as well as sight, the Italian prosecutor's office said.


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