European Commission eyes a new anti-money laundering authority

The European Commission is considering the setting up of a new authority to police financial crime, it said on Thursday.

An Action Plan which sets out concrete measures that the Commission will take over the next 12 months to better enforce, supervise and coordinate the EU’s rules on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, was published on Thursday. The plan is aimed at shutting down any remaining loopholes and removing any weak links in the EU’s rules.

The EU executive vice-president, Valdis Dombrovskis who oversees financial services, said “We need to put an end to dirty money infiltrating our financial system. Today we are further bolstering our defences to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, with a comprehensive and far-reaching Action Plan. There should be no weak links in our rules and their implementation. We are committed to delivering on all these actions – swiftly and consistently – over the next 12 months. We are also strengthening the EU’s global role in terms of shaping international standards on fighting money laundering and terrorism financing.”

Quoted by the Financial Times, Dombrovskis explained that the European Commission would start consulting EU member states over whether to create a new supervisor to oversee the anti-money laundering fight or instead hand additional powers to the European Banking Authority.

The Commission has called for the introduction of new regulations to address the divergent enforcement practices across the union that arise when member states are reluctant to implement anti-money laundering directives over the years. The Commission will propose a more harmonised set of rules in the first quarter of 2021.

The Commission will propose the set up of an EU-level supervisor in the first three months in 2021.. At present, each member state is to individually supervise EU rules in the area of money laundering and terrorist financing

A mechanism to further coordinate and support the work of Financial Intelligence Units will be put forward in the first quarter of 2021.

The Commission also plans on issuing guidelines on the role of public-private partnerships to clarify and enhance data sharing. Private sector has a role to play in fighting money laundering and terrorist financing, while judicial and police cooperation are essential to ensure the proper exchange of information.

European authorities, stakeholders and citizens have until 29 July to provide their feedback in the public consultation on the Action Plan which was launched on Thursday.