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CBS employee fired for mishandling specimen

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MBABANE - A senior employee in the currency department at the Central Bank of Swaziland has been fired for mishandling specimen bank notes.

The employee was dismissed from duty in July 2012.

His dismissal came after an internal investigation uncovered that he had allegedly been colluding with overseas specimen collectors. Collectors are individuals or consortiums who fraudulently buy specimen bank notes.

Information gathered by the Times Investigation established that the CBS thwarted the possible sale of the specimen bank notes by intercepting trade e-mails between the employee and the collectors. According to the CBS investigation, the collectors were buying the specimen banknotes from the employee at a certain undisclosed fee, an act prohibited by the bank’s laws.

Further information gathered revealed that the employee’s line of work afforded him direct contact with not only the local currency specimen banknotes, but also to international currencies.

CBS Head of Communications Sibusiso Mngadi, in an interview on Thursday, confirmed the employee’s expulsion.

He explained that the CBS’ internal investigations which unearthed the employee’s gross misconduct recommended that he be expelled with immediate effect.

"As a matter of fact I can confirm that a serious case of gross misconduct was revealed by an internal investigation into employees’ conduct with regard to their respective stations. One of the currency department employees was found to be colluding with specimen bank notes collectors.

"In fact e-mail messages between the employee and the collectors were intercepted. The messages were effecting a sale of the specimen notes. The nature of the financial industry can’t tolerate such acts as they erode the crucial element of trust between the employer and the employee.

"Even on this particular matter, CBS elected to relieve the perpetrator on the grounds that he had lost that essential credibility and profound integrity in the face of his employer," said Mngadi.

He further explained that specimen notes were issued to let other banks and treasuries know about newly-issued notes that were about to be released.  He added that specimen notes are also used to configure ATM machines and bank notes counters. He said specimen notes may be released in sets or as individual notes.

He said these notes often bear an all-zero serial number which prevents them from being used as actual currency as they are not legal tender nor are they redeemable. He said for demarcation purpose the notes are perforated or over-printed with word ‘Specimen’ on the face of the note.

He added that the quantity and distribution of specimen notes is normally very limited, making them more expensive in black markets, which operate under the ‘collectors’ brand, than the regular issued notes. "Specimen banknotes are printed generally in very limited quantities for distribution to central banks to aid in the recognition of banknotes from a country other than their own. In some cases, specimen banknotes are printed in less limited quantities distributed to commercial banks, or even to commercial enterprises and the public at large in order to familiarise users about new designs and new security features.


"To avoid use of specimen bank notes as legal tender notes, the bank notes are deformed, typically by being overprinted or punched with an inscription such as SPECIMEN,SPECIMEN NO VALUE, or CANCELLED. In most cases, specimen notes have readily-identifiable serial numbers such as 00000000000. Many specimens have an additional control number that is used by a central bank to track who received a particular specimen," said Mngadi. He further warned the public that specimen banknotes are not real money.

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