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Industry stakeholders and policy-makers meet to discuss the future of anti-money laundering in the EU


12 Dec 2019


Euro & Finance

Today, private sector representatives, law enforcement and senior policy makers met in Brussels in order to discuss the most recent developments in anti-money laundering in the EU and the next steps for the European Commission.

The event follows the meeting of the EU Finance ministers at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 5 December 2019. A raft of new measures have been proposed, taking into account the recent high-profile incidents of money laundering and illicit activities that have underlined Europe’s weaknesses in the current AML architecture.

The Council adopted conclusions on strategic priorities for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. The Council invited the Commission to explore possible further actions, such as an enhanced cooperation between the relevant authorities and bodies involved in anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing. Moreover, the question has been raised whether some aspects would be better addressed through a regulation, and discussed the possibilities, advantages and disadvantages of conferring certain supervisory responsibilities and powers to an independent EU-level body.

The debate on the creation of this EU-level body that would be tasked to crack down on money laundering activity is ongoing. “It could detail a single AML/CFT rulebook via technical standards and/or guidelines, coordinate its implementation and ensure strict and harmonised AML/CFT supervisory practices in the EU and across Member States, leveraging on the experience and expertise of national supervisors”, said Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB and Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB.

However, discussions will continue on the new ‘independent EU body’, what ‘powers’ and tasks it would have, and what the appropriate governance model would be.

“Fighting money laundering and terrorist financing is a key priority for the European union. Ambitious new priorities on anti-money laundering, agreed by the EU Finance Ministers on 5 December provide a clear political guidance for the new Commission to take this work forward”, said Jaakko Weuro, Financial Services Counsellor, representing the Finland’s Presidency of the Council of European Union.

“While the Union has one of the most advanced AML/CFT framework, significant further steps are needed for a comprehensive policy at Union level”, said Raluca Pruna, head of unit, DG for Justice and Consumers, European Commission.

In the light of recurrent money laundering cases, the current EU AML/CFT framework has proven to be insufficient to efficiently tackle financial crime. The European Banking Federation (EBF) is finalising its own analysis of the flaws and shortcomings of this framework. “We need to shift from a relatively inefficient process-driven approach to a more robust intelligence-led and outcome-oriented mindset”, said Roger Kaiser, EBF, at the seminar organised by AME on 11 December. “Before Christmas we will present the Commission with a set of 20 recommendations aimed at improving the consistency, the architecture, the efficiency and the administrability of the EU AML/CFT framework” said Kaiser. These recommendations will be detailed in a Blueprint to be published in early 2020. 

“The various EU bodies must capitalise on the current level of political commitment and momentum around the issue of AML, there is a real opportunity to achieve structural change especially in the realm of enhancing Supervision - if this is achieved the future will hold a lot of promise for curtailing money laundering in the EU”, said Isabella Chase, Centre for Financial Crime & Security Studies, Royal United Services Institute.

“We are already looking forward to the 2020 event, when the EU anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing framework will be further strengthened by the new Commission”, stated the AME Secretariat.

Anti-Money Laundering Europe (AME) is a Brussels-based interactive public/private sector forum on EU financial crime issues. Established in June 2004, its high-level private and public sector membership engages directly with the EU and international institutions to exchange views and to contribute to policy-making on money laundering, fraud and the financing of terrorism. AME is managed by Schuman Associates, a Brussels-based EU affairs consultancy.

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