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The European Union has raised the prospect of limits on cash-only purchases in order to remove the potential for money laundering

Author: Niall Hearty  17 August 2021

Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli assesses the reasons behind the idea and the implications.

Cash payments of over €10,000 could be banned as part of European Union anti-money laundering rules.

EU legislation to ban €10,000-plus cash transactions to pay for car purchases, home improvements and even funeral services is under consideration in an attempt to tackle cross-border money laundering.

Irish EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, who is responsible for anti-money laundering laws, said there was a need to examine ways to combat money laundering that went beyond examining large businesses, banks and financial institutions. The buying of major items such as cars, jewellery, antiques and funerals are all, according to her, areas where the EU may impose restrictions. Payment for such goods and services would have to be made on a card or via a bank.

The ban is being considered at a time when European authorities are assessing the possibility of a more digital society, with the idea of a purely digital version of the euro being examined by the European Central Bank. Currently,  eight out of the 27 EU member states do not have a limit on large cash payments.

The proposals being outlined are just the latest way in which the EU is looking to remove the potential for money laundering. If the restrictions were imposed, they would further accelerate the trend away from cash transactions.  

But while this may curb cash-related money laundering, it could lead to an increase in online or digital money laundering and fraud. This would make it vitally important that appropriate preventative and enforcement strategies were in place and functioning effectively. 

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Niall Hearty


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Niall has a wealth of corporate crime expertise and an ability to coordinate global bribery and corruption cases. His achievements in such investigations have made him a logical choice for corporate clients.

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