Taking its cue from Brussels, Cyprus is poised to ban cash transactions over €10,000.
The finance ministry is drafting a bill that would make any cash-based transactions over €10,000 a criminal act, with fines of up to 10 per cent of the value of the transaction.
In simple terms, any legal purchase of a good or service over that amount will need to be done with plastic or mobile money.
A ministry official confirmed the bill would be presented to the cabinet by the end of the month. Once it is approved, it will be tabled to parliament.
The same official suggested that Cyprus has little choice but to harmonise with the EU law.
“If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to the allegation, albeit unfounded, that Cyprus remains a money-laundering hub.”
In Cyprus there is currently no limit on the value of cash transactions.
The purported objective of EU Directive 2015/849 is to combat money laundering, and the financing of terrorism and organised crime.
The directive applies, among others, to financial institutions, the creation, operation or management of trusts, companies and foundations, and to any persons “trading in goods to the extent that payments are made or received in cash in an amount of EUR 10 000 or more, whether the transaction is carried out in a single operation or in several operations which appear to be linked.”
The EU has already discontinued its production of €500 banknotes.
In the EU, all laws are initiated by the European Commission – a group of unelected officials – with the European Parliament reduced to the passive role of modifying legislation before voting on it.
Concerns have been raised over the drive to phase out cash, which affords both anonymity and privacy. In Germany, attempts by the government to set a threshold of €5,000 triggered a fierce public backlash. The German tabloid Bild published a scathing open letter titled “Hands Off Our Cash.”
For the man on the street, another perk of cash is that serves to limit central banks’ ability to continue conducting negative interest rate policy (NIRP). As long as cash exists, there’s no way of preventing depositors from doing the logical thing – taking their money out of the bank and parking it where the erosive effects of NIRP can’t reach it.