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Monday, August 01, 2011

What the Hell are UN Bux?

EXCLUSIVE: From George Ure's Urban Survival's Indonesia Bureau

We start off with normal/routine traffic between me and Bernard Grover, ace chief of our Indonesia Bureau: Bernard, now thinking he's Plucky Percell, got to telling me about something he ran across in his part of the world which are called UN Bux.  And, since my news nose knows news, and I have never heard of such things, I pressed him for details.  And I didn't like what I learned and you may not, either:

(Note: Image shrunken to keep dpi well below govt thresholds for currency images & facsimiles but adequate to show approximate scaling and location of logo for illustrative purposes - G)
"For illustrative purposes only, I have roughly recreated an UNbux. It's close enough that if you saw one, you'd recognize it instantly. (NB-the image file is a re-creation and NOT a scan of the real thing...I wasn't allowed to do that)
They come in sealed boxes of 1 million face value. Each box has a serial number and a receipt that goes with it. The contents are registered and the numbers are sequential. There are a number of restrictions on where and how they can be used. In order to use them, it must be with an authorized entity, and the box must be presented still sealed, with receipt and passport of the bearer. HOWEVER, there appears to be a well-established sub-market for these things. They are usually stolen, or obviously not being used according to the restrictions.
There is a chemical that cleans the UN logo off in about 30 seconds without a trace, even under blacklight. It's very expensive. Enough to clean 5 million UNbux runs in the neighborhood of $350,000. The process is fairly straight-forward. You rub the notes around a bit and the blue ink vanishes. You then wash the notes in clean water and iron them for that 'just banked' look. Obviously, if you can raise the cash to clean a box of them, then you can use the cash to buy more chemical (by the way, ants love the chemical, so it must be fairly innocuous and there's very little odor to it).
Only one catch, it's very hard to spend them, because even if the UN stamp is cleaned off, the serial numbers are still registered, somewhere. Moving onesies and twosies through money changers wouldn't present much problem, until enough of them started showing up and certain parties started getting curious. However, moving a pile roughly two feet square and 10 inches thick is a bit more problematic.
I looked high and low on the internet, but can find nothing about these. My friendly neighborhood economic hitman (former World Bank) knows plenty about them and keeps a few as souvenirs. They are handed out as 'aid' and to fund certain 'activities.' The batch I saw had come from a certain south Mediterranean hot-zone. I leave it to your imagination as to whom they were given.
I've actually held 4 notes and seen an envelope with a couple thousand bux. I watched three of them get cleaned. It was all terribly interesting and I've been looking into the matter for two weeks, but as far as I can tell, UrbanSurvival will be the first public mention of UNbux that I can find.
Plucky out!"
So now we start to place a few bets:  Like is this where some of those missing trillions have gone?  Hmmm...

Source:    Week of August 1, 2011

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  1. Can we somehow use the "Euro Bux" to pay for

    " O.P.E.C. Gas " and " oBOWma Deficit " ???

  2. U.N Bux, Euro Bux, WHATEVER ! !


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