Discontinue EUR 200 and EUR 500 to curb trade-based money laundering says Europol intelligence chief

The head of Europol’s financial intelligence unit is calling for the discontinuation of large denomination notes because they help facilitate trade-based money laundering (TBML).

Simon Riondet called for the withdrawal of the high value notes in comments about a Spanish police operation that exposed a massive international money laundering operation in which illicit funds were disguised as legitimate transactions in the kebab trade.

Kebab network

The instigators of the TBML scheme were based on the Costa Blanca and in Barcelona and used a network of food outlets in Germany and Spain to conceal their activities.

The money launderers transferred large sums of money of between EUR 90,000 and EUR 300,000 between the two countries by concealing the transfers as payments of Spanish companies to a German company for supplies of kebab meat.

Investigators found that although the organisation had built up a network of front companies, it operated no real commercial activities.

Cash business

According to Riondet, the investigation has shown that cash features prominently in TBML schemes, and this is why he wants high-denomination notes taken out of circulation.

“The continued law enforcement seizures of bulk large denomination banknotes and the prevailing trade-based money laundering schemes reinforce the need to discontinue the production and circulation of EUR 500 and EUR 200 euro banknotes and set an EU-wide framework for restricting or setting a common limit for cash payments,” he says.

“These activities are further enabled by the lack of cash payment restrictions in some EU countries which allow justifying large cash amounts as payments for trade activities,” he adds.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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