Thursday, December 9, 2010

Taiwanese expert puts together £4,000 financial jigsaw

Owen Bowcott and agencies, Thursday 9 December 2010 11.49 GMT

Jigsaw addicts start with corners and straight edges, working inwards to complete the picture, but an expert from the Taiwanese Justice Ministry reversed the process when she pieced together a uniquely complex financial puzzle.

Liu Hui-fen was presented with a bag of 200 mutilated New Taiwan $1,000 notes that a businessman named only as Lin had inadvertently dropped into his company's industrial scrap machine.

Each was torn into some 20 pieces. Liu, a 30-year-old forensic scientist, reassembled all the cash – amounting to $200,000 (£4,000) – in seven days, a task she said had "required patience".

Confounded at first by the unwieldy pile of scraps, Liu soon found a way to attack the problem. She located the Chinese character guo – or country – on each bill and then worked outwards.

When the job was finally completed, she said it was the most difficult she had ever accomplished, but added that she had enjoyed helping Lin out.

Liu usually investigates handwriting samples but has a special brief to work on cases dealing with torn cash and has handled 247 in the past five years.

"I was so happy whenever I was able to put a piece into its right place," she said.

The Justice Ministry in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, has a special investigations unit that offers a free service repairing damaged cash. It receives around 250 cases of damaged notes each year following fires and accidents.

The central bank determined that the shredded notes had been restored to its requirement for three-quarter completeness, and will return the cash to the lucky Lin.

A chastened Lin expressed his sincere gratitude for Liu's perseverance and said: "I'm sorry the job brought her so much trouble."

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