ECB scraps 500 euro note

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Frankfurt (AFP)

The European Central Bank said Wednesday it would no longer produce and issue 500 euro banknotes, amid fears the purple-coloured bills were favoured by criminals for money laundering and even terrorist financing.

The ECB "has decided to permanently stop producing the 500 euro banknote and to exclude it from the Europa series, taking into account concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities," said the bank in a statement following a meeting of its governing council.

The bank would stop issuing the banknotes around the end of 2018, but that those currently in circulation will remain legal tender.

Existing bills can also be exchanged at national central banks of eurozone nations for an unlimited period of time, added the ECB.

According to ECB statistics, the 500-euro bills account for just three percent of the total number of banknotes in circulation, but 28 percent of the total value.