What has happened?
The Council of the European Union has adopted conclusions on strategic priorities on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), urging for the quick transposition of all AML legislation into national law and for the strengthening of the effective implementation and application of these national laws.
What does this mean?
The Council said that the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing remains a "high priority" for the EU.
The conclusions point to significant recent enhancements to the AML regulatory framework, with this year's adoption of the fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and of the fifth Capital Requirements Directive for banks as well as the review of the functioning of the European Supervisory Authorities all contributing to strengthen AML/CFT rules, among others.
In this context, the Council urged all Members States to "swiftly complete" the transposition of all relevant EU AML legislation into national law and to strengthen and application of these laws.
All relevant parties should also complete the actions detailed in the Action Plan on Anti-Money Laundering of December 2018.
Further, the Council called for efforts to be stepped up to obtain recognition of the supranational nature of the EU’s AML/CFT legal framework by the global AML/CFT organisation the Financial Action Task Force and MONEYVAL, which is the Council's committee of experts on the evaluation of AML/CFT measures.
It also noted that "international standards should continue to be incorporated into EU law in a timely and comprehensive manner to ensure full and even compliance throughout the internal market."
The Council also invited the European Commission to explore potential further actions to enhance existing AML rules, including:
- ways of ensuring a more robust and effective co-operation between the relevant authorities and bodies involved in AML/CFT, including through addressing impediments on exchange of information between them;
- whether some aspects could be better addressed through a regulation and by exploring the opportunities and challenges in using technological innovation in combatting money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, with a priority on the financial sector;
- possibilities, advantages and disadvantages of conferring certain supervisory responsibilities and powers for AML supervision to an independent EU body;
- ways to ensure high quality and consistent AML supervision throughout the EU;
- work on the above-mentioned actions in consultation with Member States and report every six months from June 2020.
Commenting on the development, Partner Aline Doussin said:
"The conclusions confirm that the EU is committed to improving its game in terms of AML/CTF preventions. By looking at further AML reforms and unifying some aspects of the EU AML Directives, there is a political will to create a truly European approach to combating financial crime. Once the EU has the necessary tools to do this, it will also need to step up and use them, although it might take some time for the EU to agree on the creation of an European AML co-ordination body and an European AML authority".
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Authored by Aline Doussin