Flush With Cash: EUR500 Bank Notes Sent Down the Drain

By Brian Blackstone Features Dow Jones Newswires

A recent report by UBS concluded that rich people were sitting on too much cash. Little did anyone know just how right they were.

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Prosecutors in Geneva are trying to figure out why two women flushed roughly EUR100,000 ($119,000) in cut-up EUR500 bank notes down a toilet at a UBS branch in the Swiss city as well as in toilets at three neighboring restaurants back in May.

Local authorities were alerted because of damage done to the toilets and plumbing, said Vincent Derouand, spokesman for the Geneva prosecutor's office. Using video surveillance, investigators were able to identify two women who they say stuffed the notes down the toilets.

Later, an attorney representing the women approached the restaurants to pay for the repairs, which amounted to several thousand francs.

The story was first reported last week by the Geneva daily Tribune de Genève. A UBS spokesman declined to comment.

It isn't a crime in Switzerland to destroy currency. But the prosecutor's office is still investigating to see whether the flushed cash resulted from criminal activities.

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Adding to the intrigue, euros aren't even used in Switzerland, which isn't in the eurozone and still has the Swiss franc. The European Central Bank will stop issuing 500-euro notes at the end of next year, though existing ones will remain legal tender.

The ECB cited "concerns that this bank note could facilitate illicit activities" when it made the announcement in May 2016.

Write to Brian Blackstone at brian.blackstone@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2017 13:50 ET (17:50 GMT)