Malta seizes $1.1 billion worth of counterfeit Libyan currency printed in Russia

Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela (L) speaks with Libyan counterpart Fayez Sarraj during a bilateral meeting in Valetta, Malta, May 28, 2020. (AA Photo)

has seized $1.1 billion worth of counterfeit Libyan dinars earlier this week, the U.S. State Department said Friday.

The counterfeit money was "printed by Joint Stock Company Goznak – a Russian state-owned company – and ordered by an illegitimate parallel entity," the State Department said in a statement, commending Malta for successfully confiscating the fake dinars.

"The influx of counterfeit, Russian-printed Libyan currency in recent years has exacerbated 's economic challenges," the statement added.

The U.S. said the incident again highlighted "the need for Russia to cease its malign and destabilizing actions in Libya."

Russia is a staunch supporter of putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) fights against the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) for control over the Libyan capital Tripoli. An estimated 800 to 1,200 fighters from Russia's Wagner Group are backing Haftar's offensive.

Earlier this week, the U.S. said Russia recently sent fighter jets to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for Haftar. Russian military aircraft are likely to provide close air support and offensive fires for the LNA.

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