Is it illegal to burn money?

Legal or not ?: Burn money with a clear conscience

Updated

The EU Commission surprises with an unusual recommendation. Destroying euro notes and coins should no longer be illegal. Different rules apply to Swiss money.

«Was it a crime? Was it madness? Was it an investment? Was it rock and roll? Was it profanity? Was it art? Was it a political statement? Was it nonsense? " The English pop group KLF confronted the viewers of their video with these questions. The film shows KLF band members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty burning one million pounds sterling in 1994. The successful musicians skilfully avoided a loophole in the law with their action. Under English law, it is forbidden to puncture, smear or otherwise damage banknotes. However, there is no penalty for completely burning money.

What the Greeks can do, you will soon be able to exempt from punishment throughout the EU - destroy money. Anyone in the Union who in the future feels the urge to burn money, dissolve it in acid or otherwise destroy it, should be able to do so in the future, according to the Commission recommendation. The following passages are included in the recommendation: “Damage for artistic purposes should be tolerated” and “The complete destruction of euro banknotes and coins by individuals in small quantities should not be prohibited”. So far the legal situation has been different depending on the country, some criminalize the destruction of money - others do not.

More slogans than fire of notes

“In Switzerland, banknotes belong to whoever has them,” says Werner Abegg, spokesman for the Swiss National Bank (SNB). The SNB, as the publisher of the notes, does not enjoy being destroyed. A destroyer of Swiss francs is still not a criminal offense. “But you have to be aware that you will finally lose your monetary value,” says Abegg. So far, however, the topic has been less the destruction of notes than the painting of notes or the affixing of political slogans. "Anyone who has such a note risks being rejected as a means of payment," says the SNB spokesman. The argument that they were received in this condition does not work because no one is obliged to accept it. However, the money is not lost: if the note is intact - especially the serial number - it can be exchanged at the SNB.

Melting coins is not worth it

Notes are not coins, however. While Swiss francs are subject to the sovereignty of the SNB on paper, the Swissmint mint produces hard money on behalf of the federal government. Rascals now make themselves punishable if they put a "Zwanzger" on the rails and watch how it is pressed into five-oversize by the locomotive. No, destroying it is the same as it is with notes. Destroying it is not a crime it is with changes. "Anyone who drills a hole in a coin and puts it into circulation, for example, is liable to prosecution," explains Kurt Rohrer from Swssmint. He points out that the federal government has already considered issuing 5 To discontinue centimes because the production costs were above the face value at certain times. However, the decision was made to continue the five. "Except for precious metal coins, however, it was never worth melting down coins because of the high raw material prices," said Rohrer Material costs only make up a fraction of the total price.

Let the stock market work!

We strongly advise against burning money at this point. Apart from the ritually cleansing and expiatory power of the flames, little remains. The British KLF was disillusioned with the public response to its money-burning campaign. Most viewers rated the burn as nonsense. The tenor was mostly: "KLF did not have the right to withdraw the money from the economic cycle - it could at least have been donated to a non-profit organization." Desecrating the sacred fetish of our culture does not go down well. If you really want to destroy money, you can do it on the stock exchange.

Burn money: Song by KLF