Auntie Brussels Wants To Know About Your Money
19 May, 2007
Technology was supposed to make things better, but if you've had to move significant sums of money around the world in the last year or two, you'll have found out that new administrative barriers have more than cancelled out any gains in speed won from the abolition of exchange controls and the spread of universal instant communication through the Internet.
Mouthing the sacred mantras of money-laundering and counter-terrorism, international authorities such as the Financial Action Task Force have imposed a battery of new rules, giving the banks a fresh excuse for their dilatory obfuscation.
But in case you're tempted just to carry the money for a deposit on that new beach-side villa in your wallet, the European Union has helpfully agreed a Directive obliging travellers to declare cash being carried into or out of the Union.
As from 15 June 2007, people who are either entering or leaving the EU with 10,000 Euros or the equivalent in other currencies or payable instruments will be required to make a declaration, including their own personal details, the owner of the cash, the intended recipient of the cash, the amount and nature of the cash, the provenance and intended use of the cash, the transport route and the means of transport.
In many EU countries, cash may be seized if the border authorities have reasonable grounds to suspect that it is either the proceeds of, or is intended for use in, unlawful conduct. And national authorities have wide powers to share the information they obtain with other countries both inside and outside the EU. To make sure the money has been taxed, for instance.
It's just the thin end of the wedge, of course. 'They' won't be content until they know where your every penny comes from and where it goes. Probably 'they' will end up by banning cash altogether, and your wealth will be in a microchip in your little finger, with a wireless connection to the Federal Reserve or the ECB. Not the World Bank, though, it might get given to the wrong person!
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