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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Number of Fake Ruble Notes Soars

The number of counterfeit ruble notes in circulation doubled last year as wages and consumer prices increased, a Central Bank official said Tuesday.

Some 100,000 counterfeit ruble banknotes were discovered among the 6.2 billion banknotes checked by officials last year, Alexander Yurov, chief of the Central Bank's cash circulation department, said during a conference.

"When no one was interested in this currency, there was less counterfeiting," Yurov said in an interview at the conference, organized by the Association of Regional Banks. Economic growth also boosted the amount of cash in circulation, which fuels crime, he said.

Wages increased an annual 16.1 percent in May, reaching a monthly average of 12,744 rubles ($492), according to the Federal Statistics Service.

The volume of cash in circulation increased fivefold last year from 2002, as retail sales and consumer prices continued to rise, Yurov said. Retail sales advanced an annual 14.6 percent in May on increased spending, fueled by rising wages, according to the statistics office.

Cash is still used in the majority of transactions in Russia, where 90 percent of issued plastic cards are only used to withdraw cash from salary payments deposited into bank accounts, said Anatoly Aksakov, deputy chairman of the State Duma's Credit Organizations and Financial Markets Committee. For every 32 payments made in cash, only one transaction is made without banknotes changing hands, Aksakov said.

Of 10.5 billion euro notes in circulation in the euro region, approximately 600,000 were discovered to be counterfeit, Central Bank deputy chairman Georgy Luntovsky said in an interview.