NewsRussia accused of flooding Libya with $10 billion in fake money

Russia accused of flooding Libya with $10 billion in fake money

Libyan dinars
Libyan dinars
Images source: © Getty Images | LightRocket, Wolfgang Kaehler

7:18 AM EDT, June 1, 2024

The Government of National Accord in Tripoli has accused Russia once again of printing and flooding the Libyan market with counterfeit banknotes to destabilize the already divided country. These counterfeit banknotes are estimated to be worth $10 billion.

Russia is accused of printing counterfeit money on a farm on the outskirts of Benghazi. There, General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army and an opponent of Tripoli, has his base. Russian mercenaries have reportedly supported him since at least 2018.

At the end of April, the central bank of Libya confirmed and presented counterfeit banknotes worth 50 dinars (approximately $10). The government estimates that several billion of these counterfeit banknotes, valued at at least $10 billion, have appeared on the Libyan market. In response, the bank decided to withdraw this denomination by the end of August.

The Kremlin and counterfeit money

This is not the first time the Kremlin has flooded Libya with counterfeit currency. From 2016 to 2020, the eastern branch of the central bank of Libya, which operates under Haftar's control, commissioned the Russian state company Goznak to print its version of the Libyan dinar. This occurred despite Haftar's administration lacking access to currency security features such as gold.

In 2019, nearly 4.5 billion counterfeit dinars were sent from Russia to the eastern port city of Tobruk.

Russia is seeking to gain a dominant position in Libya to control as much of the country’s territory as possible, enabling it to influence neighboring countries in North Africa and create a strategic bridge to the south, where it already has footholds in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. By controlling Libya, Russia can also manage the migration routes from Africa to Europe that pass through it.

Libya is divided between Haftar’s government in Benghazi and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, whom Haftar is trying to topple.

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