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Finance Minister Lindner prepares citizens for the general upper cash limit

For Federal Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner (FDP), a cash limit is a sensitive issue.

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Finance Minister Lindner prepares citizens for the general upper cash limit

For Federal Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner (FDP), a cash limit is a sensitive issue. After all, for many years there has been vehement resistance, especially in the ranks of the Liberals, to only being able to pay certain amounts with notes and coins. "A cash limit is a deprivation of liberty," wrote the FDP member of the Bundestag Frank Schäffler on Monday morning on the short message service Twitter. A few hours later, more than 3,000 users had already agreed.

Nevertheless, Lindner will hardly be able to prevent an EU-wide cash limit. Apparently he has given up his resistance to the corresponding plans presented by the EU Commission last year. "According to the current status of negotiations, such an upper limit should be withdrawn at 10,000 euros," says a paper from the Federal Ministry of Finance, which is available to WELT. Some Member States, including France, have also advocated lowering this ceiling to EUR 5,000.

The general direction of the new European Money Laundering Directive will soon be decided in the Committee of Permanent Representatives in Brussels, in which the meetings of the government representatives are prepared. December 7th is scheduled for this.

In many countries in Europe there is already an upper limit for purchases using notes and coins. In Germany, for amounts over 10,000 euros, the buyer is only obliged to show his ID. Since 2020 there has also been an upper limit of 2000 euros for the anonymous purchase of precious metals.

At the weekend, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) expressly called for the introduction of a general upper cash limit of 10,000 euros in an interview in the “Bild am Sonntag”. "A 30,000 euro cash purchase of jewelry or watches should soon be a thing of the past," she said. This reduces the risk of assets being concealed by criminals.

Lindner does not want to adopt the position of his cabinet colleague. He has always made it clear that cash purchases should continue to be possible, according to his ministry. "Citizens should continue to be able to use cash as a means of payment in everyday use without restrictions."

The ministry wants to continue to work for free cash movement in Europe and influence the direction of the decision, it said. But reference is also made to the political realities. "A possible upper limit can be decided at EU level with a qualified majority and thus also against the vote of Germany," the paper says.

It remains unclear where there are still opportunities to influence things, possibly with the exact definition of those transactions for which a cash upper limit should apply. In anticipation of a general limit, the ministry only refers to points that do not appear in the planned money laundering directive anyway, i.e. are not even up for discussion. “It is important that cash possession is still possible,” it says. And: deposits and withdrawals at banks would not be affected by an upper limit for cash purchases.

It is hardly to be expected whether such indications will appease the critics of an upper limit. Bavarian Finance Minister Albert Füracker (CSU) sees cash as the only way to pay quickly and independently, and it also protects privacy. “Digital payment does not necessarily prevent crime. People should be able to choose freely without restrictions,” he said.

AfD boss Alice Weidel said that "all citizens could not be indiscriminately and across the board involved in mafia-type black money transactions, criminal red light or even terrorist intentions". For this reason, cash must remain unrestricted as a means of payment.

The international working group against money laundering, the so-called Financial Action Task Force (FATF), based at the OECD, considers a further tightening of the measures to combat money laundering in Germany to be necessary. In the opinion of the experts, this includes improved supervision of the private sector and a strengthening of the investigative authorities, as well as a cash limit.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 5 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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