İrem UZUN -TDO- 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
Officials said the school staff were probably unaware of the actions. The prosecution is looking to confirm suspicions that it is part of a bigger international criminal operation. However, the suspects, 48-year old Iliya Nenov and 54-year old Daniela Andonova, claim the banknotes are party decorations and that they don’t possess the technology to make proper counterfeit notes and watermarks, as they use an old printer from 1987. They have also presented a contract according to which they rent the space from the school to run their business. The court has meantime released the suspects.
In January, Bulgarian authorities also charged four people after printing presses and equipment for the production of counterfeit banknotes and documents were found following searches at 30 locations across Bulgaria in a joint operation with Europol and the U.S. Secret Service.