False! US Gov’t is not rejecting dollars printed before 2021

In the early hours of November 5, 2022, reports emerged on social media platforms and some websites about the US Government’s plan to reject dollar bills printed before 2021 as legal tender.

The report which was attributed to the international news agency, Reuters, claimed that the US came to this conclusion following a high-powered meeting held among the Federal Reserve Bank of the US, the Bretton Woods institutions and Governors of Central Banks in Africa.

The viral report said the US government’s decision to reject the dollar bills printed before 2021 was “to curb billions of illegal monies in dollar bills warehoused around African continent emanating from drug-related, terrorism, kidnapping and money from corrupt politicians.”


The claim which is circulating across social media platforms across Africa added that “as part of the enforcement of the strict action plan, African central banks will be assigned with a special agent from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, Administrator of National bank United States of America to checkmate all inflows and outflows of dollar transactions.”

The viral message has come at a time when many African economies are struggling with their currencies performing abysmally against the US dollar. This has made many Africans resort to possessing the US dollar as a hedge against the relatively local unstable currencies and wobbly economies.

In Ghana, for instance, the cedi in the last weeks has severely plummeted against the US dollar. In a bid to restore the lowering purchasing power of the Naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria is reported to soon begin implementing a currency redesigning project aimed at mopping up over N3.2trn cash that is outside the Nigerian banking system.

Fact-check Ghana has verified the claim and concludes that it is false, Below is the explanation.

November 2 ‘extraordinary meeting’ did not discuss rejecting old dollar bills

 The board of Governors of the US Federal reserve and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) hold eight meetings each year, during which they address economic importance. One such matter is that of monetary policy.

On November 1 -2, 2022 the seventh regularly scheduled meeting of the FOMC was held. The Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve also met during the same period. Again, this year, the meeting of the Board of Governors was closed to the public. Here is the transcript of the speech delivered by the Chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, to the press after the FOMC meeting on November 2, 2022.

Of the 45-minute press conference, there was zero mention of the words “dollar bill” and “Africa”.

Also, on the 3rd of November, 2022, following the scheduled meetings, the Federal Reserve announced new fees for its payment services which will become effective in January, 2023. This perhaps explains the origins of the January 2023 date cited by the viral message.

Reuters did not publish any such news

 The viral message cited ‘Reuters news’ as its source. As of November 6, 2022, google has no record of ‘Reuters news’ but of Reuters, the popular news agency based in London.

A keyword search of ‘US dollar’ for the past week (30th Oct. to 5th Nov.) on the Reuters website revealed 19 items, none of which related to the said topic.

 The same was repeated for the keyword ‘Africa’ which resulted in 119 results. Again, none of them revealed the said topic.

Other critical media outlets such as Cable News Network (CNN) which would ordinarily also publish news of such enormity have not published any such information. This was revealed by a contemporaneous search ranging from November 1 to 5, 2022.

Furthermore, a contemporaneous search ranging from November 1, 2022, to November 6, 2022, on the news page of the US Federal Reserve website reveals no press release pointing to the said news item.

It’s a false report – US Embassy Ghana

Fact-check Ghana contacted the US Embassy in Ghana to inquire about the authenticity of the news. The news was determined to be false.

“This is a false report. The United States Government has not made such an announcement.” – Kevin Brosnahan, Press Attaché, US Embassy.

In conclusion, all the claims in the news item about the US Government’s plan to reject all dollar bills older than 2021 as legal tender are false.

The writer of this report, Sedem Kwasigah, is a Fellow of the Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship at the Media Foundation for West Africa.

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