One in four 'Bin Ladens' in Europe are in Spain
19 April 2006, MADRID — One in four so-called Bin Ladens or EUR 500 notes are circulating in Spain, according to latest figures.
19 April 2006
MADRID — One in four so-called Bin Ladens or EUR 500 notes are circulating in Spain, according to latest figures.
They are called Bin Ladens because people know they exist but, like the leader of al-Qaeda, they have never seen one.
But they are far from an amusing matter, Carlos Ocáña, the treasury minister told the Spanish daily El Pais.
Tax officials believe the huge number – Spain accounts for 60 percent of all EUR 500 notes in Europe – means they are used for tax evasion, money laundering and other forms of crime.
An investigation has been opened into the high percentage of these notes which rose 38 percent last year alone.
It is believed EUR 500 notes are the easiest way to dispose of large quantities of cash.
Spain, with an economy and population half the size of Germany, now has 100 million of these notes. The total is 400 million.
In comparison, this is twice the number of EUR 5 notes in circulation in Spain.
The property boom in recent years is thought to be the main reason for the rise in the number of in EUR 500 notes.
The recent EUR 2.4 billion civic corruption scandal in Marbella highlighted the problem.
The mayor of the city, the head of urban planning and head of the local police were among 23 people arrested for a scandal linked to shady property deals.
Subject: Spanish news