Wed, Jan 02, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Eurozone to stop printing 500 euro note this month

LAUNDERED:The bill with one of the highest values in the world accounts for only 2.4% of the total number of euro banknotes, but more than 20% of their total value

AFP, PARIS

Several 500 euro notes are displayed in Paris on Feb. 12, 2016.

Photo: AFP

The eurozone is moving to stop printing 500 euro (US$573) banknotes, the violet-colored bills that authorities fear are favored by criminals, with most of the 19 nations in the currency bloc to halt issuing them next month.

“As of 27 January 2019, 17 of the 19 national central banks in the euro area will no longer issue 500 euro banknotes,” the European Central Bank said on its Web site.

However, Austria and Germany would continue printing the banknotes until April 26 “to ensure a smooth transition and for logistical reasons,” the bank said.

The 500 euro notes in circulation remain legal tender and can be used to make payments.

The bank in May 2016 announced that it would halt issuing 500 euro notes, saying at the time that it expected to do so around the end of last year, due to “concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities.”

The largest denomination banknote in the single currency area is one of the world’s most valuable bills, alongside the 1,000 Swiss franc (US$1,018) note.

Because of its high value and portability, experts believe the 500 euro note had become prized by criminals for money laundering and even terrorist financing, earning the nickname “bin Laden” in some circles.

According to bank statistics, 500 euro bills account for just 2.4 percent of the total number of banknotes in circulation, but a little more than 20 percent of the total value.

At the end of November, there were 521 million of the banknotes in circulation. The 500 euro banknotes were actually last printed in 2014, with demand satisfied since from stocks.

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