Fiji Time: 2:36 PM on Tuesday 23 December

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Hold new currency RBF urged

Nanise Loanakadavu
Sunday, December 30, 2012

FIVE hundred new design $100 bills with serial numbers ranging from FFA 030 3001- FFA 030 3500 were stolen from a commercial bank this month.

And calls have been made to the Reserve Bank of Fiji to hold the circulation of the newly designed currency notes and coins until all the bills have been recovered.

Fiji Retailers Association president, Himmat Lodhia, said it was worrying when money was leaked from a bank undetected.

He said RBF would need to halt circulation of the new-look currency to allow police time to recover the stolen bills.

Yesterday, police recovered $30,000 while the search for the $20,000 continues.

Mr Lodhia said $20,000 was a lot of money and if these bills were still in the hands of those involved until the date set aside to circulate these currencies, than all this money would flow unnoticed.

"I suggest that they do not release the new-look currency now," Mr Lodhia said.

However, questions on whether the leakage of the bills would affect circulation date were unanswered by RBF yesterday. The deputy governor of RBF, Inia Niayaga referred all queries to police.

Police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro, said four suspects were arrested yesterday with one of them arrested in Taveuni along with his wife, and more than $12,000 new currency in their possession.

Another two security officers were arrested and found with a combined total of $17,400 new-look $100 bills in their possession, while a third security officer was arrested in Nadi.

She said three of the new-look notes were discovered after transactions in two supermarkets in Suva and one in the Northern division.

She said the transactions could have taken place in the christmas shopping rush.

"However that's subject to the outcome of the investigations," Ms Naisoro said.

She said the special task force team made up of officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was working very hard to recover the stolen currency and bring those responsible to justice.

Early this month, RBF governor, Barry Whiteside confimed that the new-look Fiji currency would be made available for public use from January 2, 2013.