| BANKNOTES of 500 euros may be scrapped to cut down on forgery rackets, tax evasion and poverty.
Leader of the opposition socialist party, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, says that by taking them out of circulation, the 500-euro notes found to be genuine could be spent on helping those living in poverty in Spain, a figure which could be as high as nearly half the population and already includes over 2.2 million children, according to official records.
Spain has more 500-euro notes than anywhere else in the European Union and about a quarter of those in circulation are within the country.
Rubalcaba says that by taking 500-euro notes out of circulation in Spain, those who had them would be obliged to change them, which would mean explaining where they came from and automatically being subject to any tax on them which they had tried to avoid paying.
The PSOE Secretary-General admitted that 'it is evident that the State is not exactly flush with cash', and that this would be a way of clawing back more so that it could be used for social welfare and to support those who are struggling to survive financially.
He says that although there are lots of people who are in possession of 500-euro notes for genuine reasons, their use is more prolific in corruption and money-laundering cases, and they were the most susceptible to be forged, meaning those who had them in good faith may have been given fake notes without realising and find they were unable to spend them.
The British Organised Crime Squad has already found that 90 per cent of 500-euro notes were in the hands of those involved in illegal activities.
Rubalcaba has also called for Spain's government to set up a 'European social emergency' fund with 3.5 billion euros.
He said if Spain were to approve a similar plan with one billion euros invested in it, they could create or prevent from disappearing 30,000 jobs.