The European Commission has declared its intention to strengthen EU measures combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Commission has adopted a formal communication, Towards a better implementation of the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism framework, which aims to support legislative authorities in Member States in implementing and enforcing EU regulation covering the prevention and penalisation of money laundering and terrorism financing. First Vice President Frans Timmermans said: “We must close off all opportunities for criminals and terrorists to abuse our financial system and threaten the security of Europeans. There are some very concrete improvements which can be made quickly at operational level. The Commission will continue to support Member States in this, whilst also reflecting on how to address the remaining structural challenges.”
The communication comprises an overview of four reports on the structural frameworks of Member States with regard to addressing money laundering and terrorism financing, as follows:
- A biannual supranational risk assessment report on internal money laundering, highlighting ongoing structural vulnerabilities;
- A report assessing recent high profile cases of money laundering in the finance sector and lessons learned from those cases;
- A report detailing recommended changes and proposed support mechanisms for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), which identify money laundering risks in Member States;
- A report analysing levels of interconnection of central bank account registries, recommending possible decentralisation of registries to shore up security.
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “A credible framework for preventing and fighting money laundering and terrorism financing is essential to maintain the integrity of the European financial system and reduce risks to financial stability. Yet today’s analysis gives more proof that our strong AML [anti-money laundering] rules have not been equally applied in all banks and all EU countries; so we have a structural problem in the Union’s capacity to prevent that the financial system is used for illegitimate purposes. This problem has to be addressed and solved sooner rather than later.”
Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “We have stringent anti-money laundering rules at EU level, but we need all Member States to implement these rules on the ground. We don’t want to see any weak link point in the EU that criminals could exploit. The recent scandals have shown that Member States should treat this as a matter of urgency.”