French Finance Minister Michel Sapin announced last Wednesday that France will be enacting strict limits on the use of cash in the wake of January’s Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, citing the fact that those responsible used cash to purchase equipment. According to Reuters, starting in September, France’s new cash policies will ban payments of over 1,000 euros in cash for French citizens and expenditures of over 10,000 euros for foreign visitors.
The cash crackdown also includes new monitoring provisions, requiring banks to report cash deposits, transfers, or withdrawals exceeding 10,000 euros to the government, requiring the presentation of identification for currency transfers exceeding 1,000 euros, and requiring banks to add small bank accounts to a national database. The new policies also include restrictions on the use of pre-paid cards.
Sapin said that the controls are necessary to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy,” which he says are leading to a form of “low-cost terrorism.” He explained his views further in a press conference on the new rules and said, “It’s a terrorism that is low cost to carry out but has major impact… This low-cost terrorism feeds on fraud, money laundering and petty trafficking.”
Joseph T. Salerno at the Mises Institute wrote a sarcastic critique of the new controls and said, “It was just a matter of time before Western governments used the trumped up ‘War on Terror’ as an excuse to drastically ratchet up the very real war on the use of cash and personal privacy that they are waging against their own citizens… It seems the terrorists involved partially financed these attacks by cash, as well as by consumer loans and the sale of counterfeit goods. What a shockeroo! The terrorists used cash to purchase some of the stuff they needed — no doubt these murderers were also shod and clothed and used cell phones, cars, and public sidewalks during the planning and execution of their mayhem. Why not restrict their use?”