Category: Archive

Euro changeover targets hidden, stolen cash

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Those with hidden hot money, stashes of stolen notes and nest eggs tucked under mattresses are facing a cash crux with the approach of the changeover to the euro.

Unless the money is changed by Feb. 9, 2002 it will be worthless. Euro notes and coins will be introduced on the Jan. 1, 2002 and existing currency will cease to be legal currency five weeks later.

The setting up of the Criminal Assets Bureau is believed to have led to criminals holding onto wads of cash from robberies or drug dealing rather than risk putting it into the financial system and having it exposed to detection and seizure.

If they try to "wash" the cash, they also face strict money-laundering laws that require banks and other financial institutions to report suspicious transactions.

There is speculation that crime bosses like John Gilligan may have buried some of their spoils.

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The Central Bank was unable to give any estimate of how many bank notes have vanished from circulation.

The Bank plans to appeal later this year for the return of an estimated 550 million coins, worth about £30 million, that have disappeared out of the system. It is the equivalent of two years minting by the bank.

Officials believe the coins are hoarded in homes around the country and pleas for their return will be intensified in September when joint appeals will be launched with charities.

They urged elderly people who keep their savings stuffed in a sock or hidden in a tin at home to deposit it with a bank.

"Even without the euro changeover, we would urge people not to keep large sums of money at home for security reasons," the Central Bank said.

The Central Bank said financial institutions have agreed to waive fees to change sums of about £500 at the time of the changeover.

"The banks are obliged to report any transaction they are suspicious about," a Central Bank spokesman said.

The Revenue Commissioners department said it would be interested in any money that had not been declared.

Flushing out stashed savings, stolen money and undeclared earnings from the black economy is also under the spotlight in a number of the other euro-zone countries.

The German Bankers’ Association estimates 1,000 billion marks, worth about $476 million, is lying idle in private funds — most of it personal savings salted away in homes. The association urged people to put the money into savings accounts before the changeover.

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