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The EU Commission’s Plans For An Anti-money Laundering Agency

Author: Nicola Sharp  4 November 2019

Rahman Ravelli outlines the European Union’s proposal for one agency as the Fifth Money Laundering Directive is set to be implemented.

A draft document shows that the European Union (EU) is preparing to tighten rules and is considering creating one agency to tackle money laundering.

The EU Commission, the Union’s executive arm, is being urged to carry out a swift review of existing legislation and produce proposals to overcome any shortcomings that are identified.

The document was prepared by the Finnish presidency of the EU after a meeting in October when the issue was debated by EU finance ministers. The draft text of the document says that the Commission should consider the transfer of money-laundering supervisory powers to an EU agency and proposes a means of coordinating national investigators to improve their effectiveness.

While the laundering of money often involves it being moved across borders, tackling financial crime is mostly dealt with by national rather than international authorities, which can lead to a lack of cooperation. The European Central Bank and the EU Parliament have said a body with EU-wide oversight powers could tackle this problem.

The document is expected to be adopted at a Council meeting of EU finance ministers in December.

Whatever is agreed at that Council meeting, the fact that the document has been produced shows a recognition of the need for a more unified approach at a time when the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive (read more about 5MLD) is set to come into effect. The Directive has to be implemented by member states by January 2020. 

The Directive intends to:

  • Enhance transparency by setting up publicly available registers for companies, trusts and other legal arrangements.
  • Enhance the powers of EU Financial Intelligence Units and provide them with access to broad information for the carrying out of their tasks.
  • Limit the anonymity related to virtual currencies, wallet providers and pre-paid cards.
  • Set up central bank account registries or retrieval systems in all member states.
  • Improve cooperation and enhance the exchange of information relating to money laundering risks.

Read more about anti-money laundering investigations in our guide: A Brief Summary Of Money Laundering And How To Respond To Allegations.

This article was also featured on Lexology.com.

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Nicola Sharp


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Nicola is known for her fraud, civil recovery, arbitration and business crime expertise, her experience of leading the largest financial disputes and multinational investigations and her skills in devising preventative measures and conducting internal investigations for corporates.

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