The European Central Bank (ECB) has confirmed that it will stop producing the euro 500 banknote denomination due to concerns it is helping to facilitate illegal activities.
Today’s decision from the Governing Council of the European Central Bank followed a review of the denominational structure of the Europa series which, it says, “[took] into account concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities”.
There have been a number of similar reports released by various organisations which discuss how the banknotes are often handled by criminals seeking anonymity in their payment transactions, such as a report by the Harvard Kennedy School.
As far back as 2010, UK foreign exchanges removed the €500 banknote from sale following investigations which saw the banknote denomination become the note of choice for those wishing to reduce the bulk of cash.
According to a BBC report, £1 million in €500 banknotes is approximately 2kg but £1 million in €20 banknotes is approximately 50kg
Euro 500 banknote to remain legal
However, the ECB advises that the euro 500 banknote will remain legal tender and will always retain its value. Those wishing to exchange their 500 euro denominations can do so at Eurosystem national central banks.
The ECB will stop producing new 500 banknote denominations by the end of 2018, when the new Europa series €100 and €200 banknotes will be released.