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S&Ds urge a swift update of the EU anti-money laundering list by adding the United Arab Emirates


01 Feb 2023


Euro & Finance

Today, the European Parliament discusses the need for an urgent update of the EU list of high-risk third countries for anti-money laundering and terrorist-financing purposes. The S&Ds asked for this debate because we want to highlight the importance of this process for our common efforts to protect the integrity of the EU financial system.

In December 2022, the European Commission proposed to update the above-mentioned list by adding the United Arab Emirates, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gibraltar, Mozambique and Tanzania, as well as deleting Nicaragua, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Updating this list should not be controversial in any way since the Commission’s proposal follows the assessments of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money-laundering watchdog, which has always been a benchmark for EU member states’ action in this regard.

Already in May 2022, the S&Ds urged the EU to blacklist the United Arab Emirates in reaction to the Dubai Uncovered revelations. They exposed large-scale money laundering and corruption through Dubai property, involving Russian oligarchs close to the Kremlin. 

Eero Heinäluoma, MEP and European Parliament’s negotiator on the EU anti-money laundering legislation, said:

“We urge EU member states to update the EU anti-money laundering list as soon as possible. The inclusion of third countries to this list should be based on objective assessment and not influenced by geopolitical interests.”

“In general, anti-money laundering rules must be better enforced. Last week, it was reported that 2022 was a record year in terms of anti-money laundering fines – financial institutions paid more than five billion dollars in fines for breaching those rules. 

“This is yet another reminder that we need to act adequately when it comes to high-risk third countries. The listing of those countries, following the FATF recommendation, should be a no-brainer. We call on the European Commission to act more swiftly when updating the EU list following the FATF decisions.”

Paul Tang, MEP and European Parliament’s negotiator on the EU anti-money laundering legislation, added:

"The United Arab Emirates are the laundromat of the Persian Gulf; not complying with international agreements and ranking eighth in the most secretive jurisdictions. It is disappointing to see EU member states postponing their listing. We cannot be complacent to countries that facilitate dirty money from figures like sanctioned Russian oligarchs and sex traffickers."