Why criminals and smugglers love the €500 bill

Earlier this year, the European Central Bank stopped all production of the €500 note. The action came after years of concern from academics, multinational police agencies, and EU finance ministers: The €500 note, they alleged, had grown far too popular in the funding and facilitation of drug trafficking, human smuggling, and terrorism.

Because of its illicit reputation - and because "many know what it looks like" but "few have ever seen one" - the European media ominously dubbed the note "the Bin Laden".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2019, with the headline 'Why criminals and smugglers love the €500 bill'. Subscribe