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Gang attempted to pass £500,000 notes, court told

Do not collect £28bn, do not pass go

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An Australian "lawyer" is part of a gang of six up before Southwark Crown Court accused of attempting to convince the Bank of England to honour a breathtaking £28bn ($64.83bn) in moody £1,000 and £500,000 notes, AFP reports.

The cunning plan centred on an "avalanche" of fake £1k bills and 360 so-called "special issue" £500k denominations. The former were withdrawn from circulation in 1943, with just 63 examples unaccounted for, while the latter never existed.

The court heard that the alleged crims' "chief" Chin "Daniel" Lim, 50, from Malaysia, together with Ross Cowie, 62, who "described himself as an Australian lawyer"; Kim Ming Teo, 41, "said to be another lawyer"; Ping Shuen Mak, 56, from Hong Kong; Kwok Kwong Chan, 55, from China; and Chi Kuen Chung, 53, from Hong Kong, attempted to persuade Bank of England officials that the currency "belonged to a family of former Chinese nationalist officials - the oldest of whom was aged 116".

Martin Evan, prosecuting, told the court: "This case concerns what the prosecution say was an audacious plan to present counterfeits, pieces of paper that resembled - the prosecution would say only slightly - bank notes in order to persuade the Bank of England to honour the promise all bank notes carry, the promise to 'pay the bearer' the amount shown."

Evans further explained that if the notes had been genuine, it would have meant they were "worth nearly three quarters of the £39 billion currently in use around the world".

Apart from the obvious flaw in the alleged scheme - the invention of a half-mil note - the jury heard that "the apparently forged signature on the notes was incorrect". AFP explains: "Sir Jasper Quintus Hollam - who was not appointed the chief cashier of the Bank of England until 1963 - always used his first two initials when signing his name, rather than just the second the alleged counterfeiters had used."

The defendants, all of whom live in the London area, are charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the Bank of England between 1 December 2006 and 27 March this year. All deny the charge. The trial is expected to last six weeks. ®

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