Dubai: Two businessmen have been accused of smuggling €2.9 million [Dh12.2 million] in counterfeit banknotes into Dubai when they flew in from Italy, a court heard on Tuesday.

In July, a customs inspector at Dubai International Airport stopped a 51-year-old Pakistani businessman at the arrivals terminal and asked to scan his bag. Unusually thick paper bundles were detected in the bag during scanning and when the inspector opened the bag to search it manually, he discovered huge quantities of €500 banknotes.

Records said the banknotes turned out to be fake and when the businessman was asked about the source of those fake Euros, he alleged that he had taken them from his 36-year-old countryman.

The two Pakistani businessmen were taken into custody and referred to Public Prosecution.

Prosecutors charged the Pakistani duo of smuggling and possessing €2.9 million in counterfeited currency for promotional purposes.

The suspects pleaded not-guilty when they showed up before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Tuesday.

The two suspects contended before presiding judge Mohammad Jamal that they were not aware the banknotes had been counterfeited.

A customs inspector claimed to prosecutors that the incident happened shortly after the 51-year-old suspect had arrived from Italy.

“At 2.30am when he placed his bag on the scanning device, I detected an unusual thickness in the bag. I informed him that I would search his bag manually and when I did so, I discovered large amounts of €500 banknotes. He claimed to me instantly that the bag was for his countryman who had asked him to carry it for him. He alleged there was another bag that he was expecting with his luggage. I accompanied him to the conveyor belt and picked up the other bag. The banknotes turned out to be counterfeited after checking them at a money exchange house,” he testified to prosecutors.

The trial continues.