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CASH

Driver enters France with €1.9 million hidden in car

A motorist in southern France was arrested after he was caught with €1.9 million ($2.1 million) in cash stashed in various hidden compartments in his car.

Driver enters France with €1.9 million hidden in car
Police seized a total of over €1.9 million. Photo: Police
The man was heading into France from Spain when customs officers in Perthus searched his car at the Spanish border, police announced on Friday. 
 
The motorist, a 31-year-old from Hungary, denied that he any more than €10,000 in cash, which is the maximum amount that travellers can legally have when coming into or leaving France. 
 
 
The border security decided, however, to carry out a search on the vehicle where they found wads of cash in a secret compartment near the brake lights. They found even more money in the area where the spare tyre is usually kept.  
 
In total, the officers found €1,918,460 – the vast majority of which were 20- and 50-euro notes. 
 
The Hungarian was taken into custody on Saturday afternoon on charges of failing to declare the cash and money laundering. 

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ECONOMY

Cashing out: France mulls ditching one and two centime coins

France could soon abolish its one and two centime coins in a first step towards creating a zero-cash economy.

Cashing out: France mulls ditching one and two centime coins
Photo: Deposit Photos
The days of those pesky one and two centime coins which fill your wallet, pocket or purse and accumulate around the house could be numbered. 
 
A government think tank, the Comité d'Action Publique 2022 (CAP 2022) has published a report recommending that the two smallest denomination of coins should be abolished in the near future as the first step towards creating a zero-cash economy in France.
 
“We propose to gradually move towards a society without cash like Sweden,” said the report . “We could start in the short term by putting an end to the circulation of one and two cent coins.”
 
If the plan goes ahead, France would join the likes of Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. 
 
In these countries, the smallest coins are still considered legal tender however their governments have made a step towards getting rid of them by rounding prices to the nearest five cents. 
 
However the move is not without controversy and has previously been the subject of much public debate. 
 
In 2015, for example, Christophe Beaux, the CEO of the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint), said that “if these coins are removed, prices will be rounded to the next unit and the population will feel a rise in prices.”
 
But according to a Eurobarometer poll carried out in December 2017, nearly two-thirds of Europeans are in favor of ditching the coins. 
 
And one of the reasons could be that not only do they end up clogging up purses and desk drawers but they are also expensive to produce. 
 
For example, to make one centime coin costs 1.2 cents, according to reports in the French press.  
 
In the same report, the think tank also suggested stopping the use of cash, cheques and stamps for tax and social security payments over the next two years, advising replacing these with bank cards and electronic transfers in order to cut down on fraud. 
 
What you can do to get rid of your small coins in France
 
The easiest thing to do to clear your coin clutter is to get hold of some paper rolls at your bank which you can then fill with the coins. 
 
Once that's done, you can return to your bank and they'll exchange these rolls for the equivalent in higher denominations and depending on how many you've managed to collect, you might even get some notes for your efforts. 
 
On top of that, some supermarkets in France have a Eurocycleur machine which allow you to exchange your smaller denominations of coin for supermarket vouchers. 
 
You can find out which supermarkets have these machines by visiting the Eurocycleur website
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