Let’s say I wanted to take a holiday in sunny Transnistria, the Russian-backed breakaway region of Moldova whose sovereignty is not recognized by any UN member state. I will naturally want to stay in the very best hotels, eat in the very best restaurants, and shop for loads of expensive jewelry and luxury items. Of course, even though Transnistria is quite cheap by western standards, I could never afford to do this on my salary. However, I do happen to own a very sophisticated banknote printing press. Would it be illegal for me to print up a few billion in forged Transnistrian rubles to use for my holiday?
Of course, if I were caught holding or spending the forged rubles in Transnistria itself, I’m sure the local Transnistrian authorities would consider me a criminal. But would the country in which I printed the rubles consider the printing to be a crime? That is, are the various forgery laws of the world typically worded in such a way that they apply only to currencies of recognized states? Or do they tend to be worded more broadly, prohibiting the counterfeiting of any documents used as a customary means of exchange anywhere in the world?
I’m sure I haven’t been the only person to have thought of this. Have there been any cases of this actually happening? My scenario was a bit contrived in that almost nobody wants to visit Transnistria. But there are lots of other partially recognized countries with very developed tourist and business infrastructures where there would be a great incentive to forge currency with impunity. For example, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of China remain unrecognized by dozens of other countries.