Brussels latest power grab? EU to seize control of bloc’s fight against money laundering

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The European Commission wants new control with direct supervisory powers because a number of member states are reluctant to use the current EU provisions to fight money laundering. The Anti-Money Laundering Authority should be operational by 2024 with direct supervisory powers over cross-border financial firms two years later. The EU agency will be allowed to slap fines running into millions of euros on firms that breach money-laundering rules, according to the Financial Times.

Eurocrats will present legislation that is their most ambitious plot yet to tackle illicit finance in the wake of many scandals across the bloc.

There are hundreds of billions of euros of suspicious transactions every year across the EU, but the response to tackle the issue has always been patchy.

Top officials often complain that national governments don’t properly implement the existing anti-money laundering directives that are in place.

The Commission’s aim is to bolster cooperation between national authorities and improve cross-border flows of information to financial services intelligence units.

The AMLA will directly oversee the “riskiest” transactions and firms themselves and will open operations in multiple member states.

A leaked document said: “By directly supervising and taking decisions towards some of the riskiest cross-border financial sector obliged entities the Authority will contribute directly to preventing incidents of [money laundering and terrorism financing] in the union.

“It will co-ordinate national supervisory authorities and assist them to increase their effectiveness in enforcing the single rule book and ensuring homogenous and high-quality supervisory standards, approaches and risk assessment methodologies.”

Campaigners have long pushed for Brussels to have more powers to tackle money laundering across the bloc.

German MEP Sven Giegold, of the Greens, said: “The package is certainly a big deal, the years of pressure are paying off.

“The new architecture against money laundering is a big step forward for the EU and the common market.”

But he added that the Commission should launch legal action against any member state not enforcing the current rules.

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“We need a zero-tolerance policy by the EU Commission against money laundering,” Mr Giegold said.

Scandals have been rife across the EU in recent years, with the US authorities uncovering a series of problematic transactions.

The now-shut Latvian bank ABLV was found to be money laundering, with much of it linked to Russia.

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Other scandals include suspicious transactions through Dankse Bank’s Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

Any package proposed by the Commission will still need to be thrashed out between the EU Parliament and member states before it can come into force.

It is set to create a single EU-wide rule book for anti-money laundering and terrorism finance, as well as new rules on crypto currencies.

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