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Russia fires back at US accusations of printing 'counterfeit' Libyan money

Russia backs Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 May, 2020

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Russia said the Libyan currency worth $1.1 billion seized in Malta is not counterfeit. While the US has said a Russian state-owned company printed the cash.
Russia's foreign ministry on Saturday hit back at US accusations of printing illegitimate Libyan currency, and denied a large sum of Libyan money seized in Malta is counterfeit. 

Malta has seized $1.1 billion worth of counterfeit Libyan dinars printed illegitmately in Russia, the US State Department said on Friday, praising the Maltese government.

According to a statement released by the State Department, the counterfeit money was printed by Joint Stock Company Goznak – a Russian state-owned company – and ordered by "an illegitimate parallel entity".

The Tripoli-headquartered Libyan central bank is the only entity authorised to print the Libyan currency, the US said, while Russia's foreign ministry denied the money was counterfeit on Saturday, according to reports.

"The influx of counterfeit, Russian-printed Libyan currency in recent years has exacerbated Libya's economic challenges," the US had claimed, calling on Russia to "cease its malign and destabilizing actions in Libya".

Russia is a staunch supporter of general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) has launched an operative to seize Tripoli from the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

In its response to US claims, the Russian ministry said that Libya has two central banks, one in the capital Tripoli (controlled by GNA) and another in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi (controlled by LNA).

"So, that's not the dinars which are counterfeit, but America's statements," the ministry said, according to Reuters.

According to Maltese newspaper Malta Today, Russia is now seeking the release of the currency, while the UK has asked the government to dispose of the confiscated cargo.

The US, which has publicly commended Malta, has asked its government to preserve the cargo as evidence of Russia's involvement in Libya.

According to the UN, some 1,200 fighters from Russia's Wagner Group are backing Haftar's offensive.

Read more: Malta seizes $1bn in counterfeit Libyan money

US-Russia tensions soared over the North African Libya this week.

The US is now weighing on deploying a Security Force Assistance Brigade in Tunisia, after sounding alarm over claims that Moscow had deployed several fighting in Libya.

The Libyan conflict has seen the involvement of Arab as well as European countries. Russia, the UAE, France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have backed Haftar while the internationally-backed government receives military support from Turkey.



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