Money laundering: South Korean washes currency over coronavirus fears, destroys them instead

Money laundering: South Korean washes currency over coronavirus fears, destroys them instead
Above, an employee checks newly printed South Korean currency in Gyeongsan, southeast of Seoul, in this May 29, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Money laundering: South Korean washes currency over coronavirus fears, destroys them instead

Money laundering: South Korean washes currency over coronavirus fears, destroys them instead
  • Amount in question was condolence money given by relatives, friends

SEOUL, South Korea: Money laundering is not a good idea, as a South Korean found out when he or she put banknotes in a washing machine to remove possible traces of the coronavirus.
Officials say the loss was considerable.
The person living in Ansan city, near Seoul, placed an unspecified amount of 50,000-won ($42) bills in a washing machine earlier this year. Some of the money was seriously damaged, and the person reached out to the Bank of Korea to find whether it could be exchanged for new bills.
Under bank rules on the exchange of damaged, mutilated and contaminated banknotes, the person was provided with the new currency totaling about 23 million won ($19,320), the Bank of Korea said in a statement.
Bank official Seo Jee Woun said the number of 50,000-won bills the bank exchanged at half value was 507. She said the bank doesn’t count the number of bills that it cannot exchange because damage is too big.
She said bank officials didn’t know exactly how much money the person tried to wash.
She said the loss would still be “considerable.”
How much the central bank should exchange in a situation like this depends on how seriously banknotes are damaged. The bank can provide the new currency at face value if damage is minimal, but at half value or not at all if damage is significant.
The amount in question was condolence money given by relatives, friends and others during a family funeral, according to the bank.
The person has been only identified by family name Eom. Bank officials gave no further personal information citing privacy law.
How about microwaving money?
According to the bank, another person, surnamed Kim, put bills in a microwave over similar coronavirus concerns earlier this year. The bank exchanged Kim’s damaged money with the new currency worth 5.2 million won ($4,370). Seo said Kim’s losses were not big.
South Korea’s central bank has advised the public to avoid putting banknotes in a microwave saying its disinfection effect is unclear. Anti-virus guidelines in South Korea don’t include sterilizing money in a washing machine either.


Lab-grown meat to go on sale in Singapore in world first

Updated 02 December 2020

Lab-grown meat to go on sale in Singapore in world first

Lab-grown meat to go on sale in Singapore in world first
  • Demand for sustainable alternatives to meat is rising due to growing consumer pressure

SINGAPORE: Lab-grown chicken will soon be available in restaurants in Singapore, after the city-state became the first to green-light meat created without slaughtering any animals.
US start-up Eat Just said Wednesday that its meat had been approved for sale in the city-state as an ingredient in chicken nuggets.
The news marks a “breakthrough for the global food industry,” said the company, as firms increasingly try to find less environmentally harmful ways of producing meat.
“I’m sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.
Consumption of regular meat is an environmental threat as cattle produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, while logging forests to make way for animals destroys natural barriers against climate change.
Demand for sustainable alternatives to meat is rising due to growing consumer pressure, but other products in the market are plant-based.
There were concerns lab-grown varieties would be too expensive, but a spokesman for Eat Just said the company had made “considerable progress” in lowering the cost.
“Right from the start, we will be at price parity for premium chicken at a high-end restaurant,” he said.
He did not reveal the price of the nuggets but said they would be launched soon at a Singapore restaurant, before other products including lab-grown chicken breasts are rolled out.
Eat Just hopes to bring down the cost to below that of conventional chicken in the coming years, the spokesman added.
The company conducted over 20 production runs in 1,200-liter bioreactors to make the chicken alternative, and checks on safety and quality showed its “cultured” product — the term for meat grown in labs from animal cells — met food standards.
Meat consumption is projected to increase over 70 percent by 2050, and lab-grown alternatives have a role to play in ensuring a safe, secure food supply, Eat Just said.
“Working in partnership with the broader agriculture sector and forward-thinking policymakers, companies like ours can help meet the increased demand for animal protein as our population climbs to 9.7 billion by 2050,” said company CEO Tetrick.
The Singapore Food Agency, the city-state’s regulator, confirmed it had approved the sale of Eat Just’s lab-grown chicken in nuggets after concluding it was safe for consumption.
The agency said it had put in place a framework for “novel foods” which do not have a history of being consumed by humans to ensure safety standards are met before they go on sale.
The high-tech city-state has become a hub for the development of sustainable foods in recent years, with local start-ups concocting dishes suited to Asian palates.
These range from lab-grown “seafood” to dumplings made with tropical fruit instead of pork.