The inception impact assessment (IIA) is ill-conceived, not grounded on firm empirical evidence and harmful to both crime control and the legitimate interests and rights of the EU citizens. The action under discussion is presented as a measure against terrorism finance, serious crime and tax evasion. The problem is that these criminal acts correspond to very different methods, volumes, perpetrators, causes and control challenges. Cash payment limitations (CPLs) are nowhere near a panacea that can address all of them and cannot make any of them go away magically. Even when each of these crime challenges are considered on their own, the empirical linkage of CPLs to effective controls is not there. The evidence from EU countries with CPLs in place shows higher levels of informal economy, corruption, tax evasion and terrorism risks than those without. There is substantial evidence of non-cash, very serious and organized crime, while the amounts needed and used by terrorists in Europe are usually very small in cash transactions, way below the thresholds under consideration. In fact, determined offenders will shift to other methods and become more sophisticated, posing new problems to controllers. Displacement and incentives for better-organized crime may well be the main products of such measures.

The paper received the 2019 Excellence Award as the Outstanding Paper of the Journal of Financial Crime.

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