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€500 note pulled in bid to hamper border criminals

The €500 note has been withdrawn from supply to money service businesses across Northern Ireland and the UK in a bid to hinder the financial dealings of cross border organised crime gangs.

Intelligence gathered by the Serious organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has found that easy access to the notes has been assisting major crime networks move large sums of cash into the Republic and from across the UK into other parts of Europe.

Gangs dealing in organised crime like drugs, cigarette smuggling, immigration crime and fuel fraud have been stocking up on €500 bills. Because of its high denomination they have been able to carry more cash in smaller packages. Some smuggle it internally.

The average adult male can stuff and swallow €150,000 in €500 bills.

Alternatively, €20,000 in €500 bills can be hidden in a cigarette packet.

The gangs have been purchasing the notes from money service businesses where customers can exchange currency, transmit money or cash cheques.

Now that the notes have been withdrawn, crime fighting agencies will be looking out for an upsurge in the purchase of €200 notes, which could help the authorities track and monitor organised crime gangs.

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