EUROPE – €500 notes should be removed from circulation as soon as possible because they are only used by criminals, the head of a special police team responsible for tracking crime cash has told the Telegraaf.
The notes are no longer being printed but there are some 509 million in circulation, with a value of over €250bn, the European central bank said in March. Most of of the notes are in the hands of drugs criminals in Latin America and Mexico, countries where ‘you can’t buy butter with euros’, FIU chief Theo Akse told the paper. The €500 note also makes it easy to smuggle cash, Akse said. He suggests phasing out the note over a two year period and giving the holders three months to swap their cash. The €200 note should also be withdrawn from general circulation, he said, because it too serves no useful purpose. Most Dutch shops already refuse to accept €200 notes.