The Stolen Dinars of Kuwait

Due to their prevalence and interesting story, dinar notes are quite popular, with the stolen varieties far surpassing the other issued varieties in the number of graded notes.

In 1980, the Kuwaiti dinar received an overhaul with 1 and 5 dinar banknotes introduced alongside the existing denominations of ¼, ½ and 10 dinar notes. In 1986, a 20 dinar note was introduced as well. This third series coincided with the Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah rising from minister of finance to the nation’s third Emir. Jaber did not appear on these banknotes, with the Kuwaiti coat of arms and various industrial scenes being featured instead.

The invasion of Kuwait by the Iraqi military in 1990 had an impact on Kuwait’s Central Bank, which was looted of over $1,000,000,000 in banknotes.1 Saddam Hussein placed the Kuwaiti dinar on par with the Iraqi dinar, which lowered the former currency to one-twelfth of its original value. Emir Jaber responded by ruling these banknotes to be invalid and refusing to reimburse the stolen notes, which were deemed worthless because of a UN embargo. In the meantime, Iraqi troops “used the illegally obtained funds to purchase supplies and services from Kuwaiti merchants. Some even received pension benefits paid from stolen Central Bank assets during Iraqi occupation.”2 As a result, Kuwaiti business owners were angered by the decision, leading to long lines once the Central Bank reopened following the expulsion of Iraqi forces in 1991.

After the conflict had ended, many of these stolen banknotes entered the numismatic market in plentiful supply, depending on the denomination. For example, the ¼ and 10 dinar notes were most commonly stolen. The ¼ dinar with prefix denominators between 54 and 86 is at the top, likely because of its quantity as the lowest valued dinar. According to the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, these notes are listed as Kuwait P11-16,3 while here at PMG, these stolen notes are given an “x” variety to differentiate them from the rest of the notes. In part due to their prevalence, and in part because of their story, these notes are quite popular, with the stolen varieties far surpassing the other issued varieties in the number of graded notes.

Kuwait, Pick# 11x, 1968 (ND 1980-91), 1/4 Dinar, "Cancelled Contraband Note",
PMG Graded 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ, front
Click image to enlarge.

Kuwait, Pick# 11x, 1968 (ND 1980-91), 1/4 Dinar, "Cancelled Contraband Note",
PMG Graded 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ, back
Click image to enlarge.

Among the highest observed grades, we have a KUW11x graded at 69 EPQ, among 107 total notes in the population.

Kuwait, Pick# 14x, 1968 (ND 1980-91), 5 Dinars, "Cancelled Contraband Note",
PMG Graded 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ, front
Click image to enlarge.

Kuwait, Pick# 14x, 1968 (ND 1980-91), 5 Dinars, "Cancelled Contraband Note",
PMG Graded 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ, back
Click image to enlarge.

We have also seen a KUW14x graded at 69 EPQ, among 108 notes in the population.

Kuwait, Pick# 15x, 1968 (ND 1980-91), 10 Dinars, "Cancelled Contraband Note",
PMG Graded 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ, front
Click image to enlarge.

Kuwait, Pick# 15x, 1968 (ND 1980-91), 10 Dinars, "Cancelled Contraband Note",
PMG Graded 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ, back
Click image to enlarge.

Finally, we have seen a KUW15x graded at 69 EPQ, among 151 notes in the population.

Interestingly, the 20 dinar note, KUW16x, has been the most popular among these stolen notes, with 197 notes graded, despite a small range of just five prefix denominators. However, the above notes are the only denominations to reach a grade of 69.

In conclusion, these notes have an interesting story, and their prevalence make them an easy way to collect an entire set of notes, which you can display in the PMG Registry.

Sources:

1. https://www.upi.com/Archives/1990/09/07/Iraqis-loot-Kuwaits-central-bank-of-gold-cash/4632652680000/
2. http://articles.latimes.com/1991-03-25/news/mn-594_1_central-bank
3. Pick, Albert, Schmidt, Tracy L. and Augustsson, Thomas. (2017). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 23rd Edition. Wisconsin: Krause Publications.


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