How 'photocopying' money for music video landed artiste behind bars

100 dollar bills [iStockphoto]

In 2015, a little-known Migori-based singer, Triple S, made headlines when he was arrested for having photocopied wads of cash. He says his video script needed him to 'make it rain,' but since he didn’t have that much cash on him, he thought of a brilliant idea which was of less hassle and easier to execute: photocopy money.

'I was neither aware of the consequences nor the government protocols to follow for that matter. The script needed at least Ksh200,000, so I went ahead and photocopied a huge sum of money. As a young upcoming artist, I could not get that much money. So I opted for the easier way out,' he explains, adding that all the monies were to be destroyed after the shoot.

Things, however, took an interesting turn when the police got wind of the illegal activity and swooped in, arresting him as the mastermind. Police arrived while they were shooting the second scene and arrested everyone. This saw him spend three years behind bars.

This is just one scenario, but misusing Kenyan currency, even if it doesn’t look like a big deal, may land you in trouble. Respecting any legal currency, for that matter, goes beyond mere transactions; it's a matter of national pride and legal responsibility.

Scenarios that can land you in trouble

The Central Bank of Kenya, which is the legal custodian of the Kenyan Shilling, has put very stringent regulations which protect the shilling. Defacing, mutilating, or deliberately damaging currency notes is a criminal offence.

According to CBK, 'Any person who willfully and without authority or excuse defaces, tears, cuts or otherwise mutilates any currency note shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or to both.'

The offence doesn't stop at physical damage. Counterfeiting, the act of creating fake notes, is a much graver crime. If caught with these replica notes, you can expect a lengthy jail sentence and hefty fines.

Another seemingly simple act that is in gross violation of the CBK’s strict measures includes using images of Kenyan currency notes, whether current or historical, without the approval of the Central Bank of Kenya. A while back, CBK cautioned Kenyans against taking photos of banknotes or posing with the money in photos or videos, saying it is illegal.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya (Currency Handling) Regulations, 2010, 'Any person who wishes to use cash or images of cash in any publication or for any other purpose shall apply in writing to the bank for approval.'

Such a person shall provide this information in writing: their full name, nationality, information relating to the manner and purpose for which the images are intended to be used, a specimen of the works for which such use is intended, and a declaration that the intended use would not infringe on the bank's copyright over the cash.

After such a declaration, the bank will consider the application, and within 14 days, they shall notify the applicant of their decision in writing; the decision shall be final, and the bank shall not be obliged to render reasons for the decision.

That said and done, if one contravenes these set rules, they shall be liable to a penalty, payable to the bank, of one hundred thousand shillings and a daily surcharge of ten thousand shillings if the breach is not remedied within the time specified for that purpose by the bank."


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