Deliberately Damaging Banknotes

It is an offence under the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 to intentionally deface, disfigure, mutilate or destroy Australian banknotes without the consent of the Reserve Bank or Treasury. It is also an offence to sell banknotes knowing them to have been defaced, disfigured or mutilated.

Extract from Crimes (Currency) Act 1981

16. Defacing or destroying current coins or current paper money

A person shall not, without the consent, in writing, of an authorised person, intentionally deface, disfigure, mutilate or destroy any coin or paper money that is lawfully current in Australia.

Penalty:

  1. in the case of a person, not being a body corporate – $5,000 or imprisonment for two years, or both; or
  2. in the case of a person, being a body corporate – $10,000.

17. Selling defaced coins or paper money

A person shall not sell or offer to sell a coin or paper money that is lawfully current in Australia and that has been defaced, disfigured or mutilated, knowing it to have been defaced, disfigured or mutilated.

Penalty:

  1. in the case of a person, not being a body corporate – $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both; or
  2. in the case of a person, being a body corporate – $10,000.

Note: ‘Paper money’ means money comprising a banknote written, printed or otherwise made on paper or any other material. Paper money shall be taken to be current paper money if it is lawfully current in Australia or in a country other than Australia by virtue of a law in force in Australia or in that country, as the case may be.

All Australian banknotes, present and all past issues, are lawfully current in Australia.

Crimes (Currency) Act 1981