The number of counterfeit euro bills confiscated in the first half of this year was the highest since the currency was introduced in 2002, the European Central Bank said Monday. The bank said 413,000 fake euro banknotes were taken out of circulation from January to June, a 17 percent increase over the second half of last year. It is the highest tally of confiscated counterfeits since bills and coins for the currency now used in 16 European countries were first released in 2002.
The bank said in a statement that an average of 12.5 billion genuine euro notes were in circulation in the period. The bill most commonly counterfeited across the 16-nation euro zone was the â‚¬20 - currently worth about $28 - followed by the â‚¬50.