Counterfeit €10 banknotes accounted for the highest amounts of fake currency circulated in Cyprus, representing 40.8 per cent of the total, according to the annual report of the Central Bank for 2022.

A total of 451 counterfeit banknotes were detected in 2022, a remarkable increase compared to the 211 of the year before.

Most of the fakes, which were withdrawn from circulation, were identified by bank tellers. Despite the increase, however, the number of counterfeit banknotes circulating in the country in 2022 was lower compared to the EU average, the report said.

Moreover only 91 counterfeit coins, all €2 coins, were detected and withdrawn from circulation in 2022.

The Central Bank also reported that throughout last year, approximately 135.3 million banknotes were checked for authenticity and assessed for quality before being released into circulation. Of those, 21.9 per cent were deemed unfit for circulation.

The report added that in 2022 checks were conducted on banknote processing machines, as well as in the form of on-site inspections of licensed credit institutions to verify the compliance with the provisions regarding the safe circulation of banknotes.

The checks covered all provinces and were carried out continuously.

Approximately 6.7-million-euro coins were inspected during 2022, of which 0.14 per cent (corresponding to 9,231 coins) were deemed unfit for circulation.

The Central Bank is responsible for the issuance of both banknotes and coins. Specifically, banknote issuance is the responsibility of the Central Bank, which prints the quantity of banknotes allocated to it by the European Central Bank (ECB).

As for coin issuance, IT falls under the jurisdiction of the government, which, however, has designated the Central Bank as its representative for all matters related to euro coin issuance in Cyprus since 2016, when a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two parties.

As a result, the Central Bank is allowed to withdraw from circulation both banknotes and coins it finds unfit for circulation.