Euro in demand among criminals

FRANKFURT Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:30am EST

FRANKFURT Jan 13 (Reuters) - The euro is gaining currency among criminals.

The number of counterfeit euro banknotes withdrawn from circulation in the second half of last year rose by 11.4 percent from the first half to 353,000, the European Central Bank said on Monday.

It was the highest level since late 2010, although with 15 billion banknotes in circulation the number of fakes remains very low in percentage terms.

The ECB unveiled a new 10-euro bank note on Monday, which it said would help it stay ahead of counterfeiters.

The 20- and 50-euro notes remain counterfeiters' favourites, however, accounting for more than three quarters of fake bills.

(Writing by Paul Carrel Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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