Politics & Government

The history of the supernotes

WASHINGTON — A timeline for the mysterious supernotes:

1989: First nearly perfect fake $100 detected in a Philippine bank.

Early 1990s: Secret Service doesn't confirm existence of supernotes.

April 1992: Russia's Izvestia newspaper reports high-quality supernotes abound, are made in Russia and that one in 10 dollar banknotes in Russia is fake.

February 1996: Congress holds hearings; Republicans blame Iran and Syria.

1996: Bureau of Engraving and Printing redesigns the $100 bill. The banknotes add security features and an off-center, larger portrait of Ben Franklin. In less than a year, supernotes appear.

Late 1990s: North Korean diplomats were caught passing supernotes in Asian capitals; diplomatic immunity prevents prosecution.

Sept 30, 2004: Grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicts Irish Workers Party leader Sean Garland, accuses him of retrieving fakes from North Korean Embassy in Moscow.

March 2005: At U.S. request, Interpol issues first of two orange alerts, calling on nations to refrain from selling banknote equipment or supplies to North Korea.

August 2005: Secret Service announces two separate sting operations — Royal Charm and Smoking Dragon. Chinese crime gangs accused of smuggling supernotes into New Jersey and Los Angeles. Later indictment alleges attempts to smuggle shoulder-fired missiles, too.

Jan. 26, 2006: President Bush accuses North Korea of faking U.S. currency, legally an act of war, and calls for a stop to it.

July 26, 2006: At U.S. request, Interpol holds conference in Lyon, France, but Secret Service presents no hard evidence, citing intelligence.

Aug. 8, 2007: Bush tells McClatchy his accusations were based on intelligence. State Department later drops counterfeiting from list of public complaints against Pyongyang.

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