The introduction of the replacement coin, billed as the most secure in the world, was announced last week with ministers saying a new design was needed to combat the number of counterfeits in circulation.
It is claimed the decision to replace the familiar round coin came after Dutch police raided what was previously thought to be a legitimate mint in Amsterdam and discovered sophisticated machines which could produce hundreds of coins every minute, and matched the standard of those used by the Royal Mint.
The Dutch police had been tipped off by their British counterparts, who had learned via underground informants that huge consignments of fake coins were allegedly being brought through British ports, and passed on to British crime syndicates.
‘This [counterfeiting] operation has been going on since at least 2006 and it is estimated that they have been producing around £4m worth of £1 coins each year, if not more,’ an industry source told the Independent On Sunday, describing the operation as the biggest, and most sophisticated the UK has ever seen.
Dutch anti-fraud officers raided and shut down the European Central Mint site last November…