Pressure grows for €500 note ban

Fraud police say the note is 'currency of choice' for criminals

UK bureaux de change ordered to stop giving out the notes - adding to French MPs' calls for it to be scrapped completely

BANKS and bureaux de change in the UK have been banned from giving out €500 notes to customers with immediate effect - putting further pressure on Europe to scrap the note entirely.

Anyone trying to buy a large number of euros in the UK will have to use a lower denomination or alternative methods such as electronic bank transfer in a bid to cut down on money-laundering.

However, the note can still be paid into British bank accounts and if you are arriving in the UK from France with a €500 note you can still get it changed for pounds.

The Financial Times says the ban will add pressure on the European Central Bank to take the note out of circulation.
According to the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, it has become the "currency of choice" for criminals.

Last September, a cross-party group of French MPs called for the note to be scrapped to cut down on fraud.

"Laundering money often resorts to the use of cash," the group said in its report to the National Assembly.

"Since the withdrawal of the $1,000 bill, the €500 represents the next highest value piece of cash."

Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has strongly denied a Spanish newspaper report claiming that Nicolas Sarkozy had threatened to pull France out of the euro.

El Pais said Sarkozy had "banged his fist on the table and threatened to withdraw from the euro" at a recent EU leaders' summit if Germany did not back the European aid package for Greece.

Ms Lagarde said the rumours were "completely unfounded". They have also been denied by Spanish and German government spokespeople.

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