British bank wholesalers have withdrawn 500 euro notes from sale because they are fuelling organised crime, it can be revealed.
The decision to end trading was made after police found nine out of every 10 of the notes in circulation are linked to crime, tax evasion and terrorism.
It closed an annual 500 million euro (£424 million) trade in the distinctive largest denomination euro note among businesses across the country.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which co-ordinated the voluntary industry move, said there is "no credible legitimate use" for the note in Britain.
Officials have been watching the market for signs of criminals changing tactics since trading secretly stopped about one month ago.
They have been expecting to see drug smugglers, people traffickers and other top-level crime gangs struggling to launder their profits as a result.
The distinctive pink and purple note is a favourite with criminals because it takes up less space than other currencies and is accepted across the continent.
Tourists and other legitimate customers will not be affected by the changes and the 500 euro note remains legal tender.
One senior official at Soca's Financial Investigation Unit said an inquiry revealed 500 euro notes are inextricably tied to serious crime.
He said: "As we developed a picture it became clear. What was previously only an anecdotal suggestion was borne out by the figures. Our analysis found that only about 10% of 500 Euro notes sold in the UK retail market were used legitimately."