‘Dirty Money’ of Another Kind

Flushing money down the toilet is usually only a metaphor, reserved for spendthrifts or those casual with their cash.

But not in Geneva.
Prosecutors in the Swiss city are investigating the attempted disposal of around 100,000 euros, or about $120,000, at a bank branch and restaurants nearby. The €500 bills had been cut up and flushed, but they clogged pipes and were eventually discovered in a trash can and inside the toilets.

The case, which occurred this summer but became public only after a report last week in the Swiss daily Tribune de Genève, has highlighted concerns about the use of high-denomination bank notes for money laundering and other crimes. The European Central Bank said last year that it would phase out the €500 note — a bill referred to in some criminal circles as a “Bin Laden,” after the former leader of Al Qaeda.

The public prosecutor’s office in Geneva said that the money appeared to have been disposed of by two Spanish citizens, whom it declined to identify, and that unless there was evidence that the cash had been obtained illegally or was destined for criminal activity, no charges could be brought.

“The fact that you put the money into toilets is weird, but not criminal,” said Vincent Derouand, a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office.

“The only thing you have to check is if it’s of legal provenance or not,” he said, adding that investigators had yet to find evidence of links to criminality.

According to investigators, the money was found in four locations in May and June: in a toilet at the Rue de la Corraterie branch of the Swiss bank UBS, and in the bathrooms of three restaurants on Place du Molard, a square in the heart of the city’s historic center.
Osama bin Laden:)

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