These images show thousands of US banknotes found dumped in a rubbish container in crisis-hit Lebanon but the local mayor says they are fake.
The incident took place in the suburb of Sin el-Fil in the Lebanese capital Beirut when the large haul of cash was found by stunned cleaners.
The cleaners, rather than pocketing the money for themselves despite the country being rocked by multiple crises including an inflation level of about 88 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, contacted the authorities to report the find.
Video footage of the rubbish container filled with USD banknotes, many of them apparently 100 bills bearing the face of Benjamin Franklin, quickly made the rounds on social media.
However, the local mayor of the suburb, Nabil Kahala, is quoted by the Emirati news site Gulf Today as saying: “What happened is true, but these are fake dollars. Rather, they are forged, and are plain papers on which a picture of the hundred-dollar banknote is printed, and have been reproduced thousands of times in the form of a photo strip.”
He added: “It was a strange morning. At half past seven on Monday, I woke up to the phone ringing, and someone told me that Sin El Fil had been drowning in thousands of dollars.
“We soon discovered that they were ordinary paper with a printed picture of the USD 100 bill, expecting that it would belong to one of the institutions concerned, for example, with filming a movie or something similar, according to the type of attached papers.”
Kahala added: “The container was parked in an area devoid of residential buildings, and therefore there are no surveillance cameras. The area is known as Dahr El-Gamal, which is completely parallel to the course of the Beirut River.
“We soon informed the Internal Security Forces, which in turn raised the matter to the Public Prosecution to follow up the investigation of the incident, that was buzzing in the media and on social networks, and based on this matter, the security forces received the file and began their investigations to find out the source of these notes and how they reached the container.”
Lebanon has recently been rocked by a series of crises, including an explosion in the port area of Beirut that killed 218 people last year.
The country has also been rocked by a political crisis and more recently a failure of the electricity grid causing power shortages.