Banknote wholesalers will no longer supply the 500 euro note in the UK as part of measures to prevent money laundering, the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) announced Thursday on its Web site.
The banknotes can still be deposited into accounts if brought back from abroad but people will not be able to get hold of them over the counter in the UK.
"The note has not been criminalized," SOCA said in a statement.
More than 90 percent of the demand for these notes in the UK came from criminals, according to the agency. It is the first formal analysis of the UK market that showed criminal abuse of the 500, SOCA said in its statement.
"The banknote wholesalers have shown decisive leadership in withdrawing supply,” Ian Cruxton, SOCA deputy director said in a press release. “This is a bold and welcome move which will cause substantial disruption to criminals' ability to move and launder large quantities of cash."
Exchanging large amounts of cash for high denomination notes to move it far out of the country undetected has been a favorite strategy of criminals all over the world throughout history because it attracts the least attention.
Now it will be more risky for criminals to use this strategy because it will attract attention as moving larger amounts of cash will be harder to conceal, SOCA said.
"SOCA and its partners in the financial sector, in law enforcement, at borders, and internationally will now be watching for changes in demand for other high denomination notes and any other activity that criminals might turn to in an attempt to get over this obstacle," it said on its web site.
The agency's analysis involved opinions of banknote wholesalers, academics, the financial industry as well as law enforcement and financial organizations.