Euro counterfeiting prevention
- The European Central Bank and the central banks of the Member States participating in Monetary Union have been putting euro currency and coins into circulation since 1 January 2002. As a result, the EU institutions have made available appropriate legal instruments so as to construct an effective and efficient system for protecting the single currency. Such instruments cover both administrative aspects (i.e. the activities aimed at the detection, control, analysis and exchange of information regarding counterfeiting) and trial- and criminal-related aspects.
The regulatory framework behind the system of protecting the euro is based on the EU Council Regulation no. 1338/2001, which defines a number of measures necessary for the circulation of euro currency and coins so as to guarantee they are protected from counterfeiting. The structure of the entire aforementioned regulation is aimed at creating an integrated flow of information regarding the counterfeiting of currency and coins, between the various national and international entities responsible, including central banks, mints, national police forces, the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and Europol.
- In accordance with Article 2, letter b), first and fourth points of the aforementioned Regulation no. 1338/2001, the Central Means of Payment Antifraud Office (UCAMP) - set up at Directorate V of the Department of the Treasury of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance - is the national authority designated for identifying false banknotes and coins, and for gathering data on euro counterfeiting for analytical purposes. The other authorities designated in accordance with said article are: for the identification of counterfeit banknotes and coins, the Police International Cooperation Service and the three branches of the police (tax police (Guardia di Finanza), the Carabinieri and State Police); the Bank of Italy (National Centre for the Analysis of Banknotes (CNA)), and the State Institute of Printing and Minting (National Centre for the Analysis of Coins - CNAC) with reference to gathering and analyzing technical and statistical data regarding counterfeit banknotes and coins.
- In supplementing the aforementioned European regulation, Italian national legislation (Decree-Law no. 350/2001, and in particular Articles 7 and 8 – and the amendments set out in Article 97 of Law no. 27 of 24 March 2012) has indicated and confirmed UCAMP as the main player (from an administrative perspective) of the detailed structure to defend the euro. For this purpose, UCAMP continually carries out analysis and monitoring of technical and statistical data and information about euro counterfeiting, so as to evaluate the economic impact of the phenomenon.
In order to fulfil its institutional duties, UCAMP has equipped itself with an information system that houses all statistical and technical data and information about cases of suspected euro counterfeiting detected in Italian territory. The data and information are sent to UCAMP via special reports prepared by parties managing cash and by the police. The system is driven for reconciliation purposes by the results of assessments carried out on banknotes and coins by the Bank of Italy and State Institute of Printing and Minting, respectively. With the system allowing for the automatic highlighting of specific "alarms", UCAMP is able to signal specific critical situations with reference to the data reported and to spatial and timing factors of the banknotes and coins withdrawn from circulation.
- With the introduction of the Ministerial Decree of 1 February 2013, Italy's national regulations have finally introduced the obligation for parties managing cash to electronically report data and information regarding cases of suspected counterfeiting. UCAMP has designed and built an innovative system for this purpose; the system, known as "The Information System for the Reporting of Euro Counterfeiting", or "SIRFE", went into operation on 14 May 2013. On the one hand, SIRFE updates the means for transmitting data and information about cases of suspected counterfeiting of the euro, and on the other hand, it has technological characteristics (electronic inputting of reports to the system directly by parties managing cash, real-time monitoring of the situation, comparison with the outcome of the appraisal activity) that make it possible for UCAMP to use modern systems in carrying out its duties in relation to euro counterfeiting.
Laws and regulations