The bad guys seem to like their 500 euro note:
In some countries they're known as "Bin Ladens" - the banknote everybody knows exists but few, other than criminals, ever see. Now the 500 euro note is being withdrawn from sale in the UK.Like almost all organised crime, the breakfast cereal box plan was done with the minimum of fuss.Eftychia Symeonidoy stood outside a London apartment, casually holding the box under her arm.But instead of it containing the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals, it had been stuffed with 300,000 euros.As the undercover team from HM Revenue and Customs secretly filmed her, an ordinary estate car pulled up and the box was handed to the driver. It was another consignment of laundered drugs cash safely delivered - or so the gang thought.Symeonidoy and the rest of the 13-strong laundering gang were all later convicted and jailed. The group smashed by HMRC investigators had taken £24m of dirty money from their clients in the criminal underworld - and returned "clean" euros.
That's an incredible amount of cash to hold in one single cereal box, isn't it? I would imagine that the same amount of money, in U.S. one hundred dollar bills, would require a steamer trunk. Here's why the 500 euro is so valuable to criminals:
Financial crime intelligence teams at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) have now, for the first time, established the extent to which criminals are using the money exchange business to manage their ill-gotten gains.And its eight-month analysis found that the 500 euro note is now at the heart of money laundering in the UK. The reason is simple: it's easier to shift.At current exchange rates, the 500 euro note is worth about £430 - eight times more than the UK's most valuable note, £50.If a drugs gang collects up to £1m in twenties from its clients on street corners, those notes will weigh more than 50kg - about 50 bags of sugar. The equivalent in 500 euro banknotes weighs just over 2kg.
Fifty bags of sugar or a brick? What would you choose?