5th December 2019, Brussels – Following a series of EU-wide financial crime scandals, EU member states must now move beyond words and ensure a stronger EU wide supervision including through creation of a cross-EU body that can sanction the private sector over anti-money laundering breaches.
At the meeting of the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council, EU Finance Ministers today agreed on the strategic priorities on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, including instructing the European Commission to look into the creation of body to supervise anti-money laundering cross the EU.
Whilst renewed attention to the fight against money laundering from the EU is a welcome step, Global Witness believes the time has come for paper commitments to be turned into serious action.
Tina Mlinaric, Campaigner at Global Witness, said:
“Whilst we’re pleased to see the EU keeping the fight against dirty money high on the political agenda, the scale of the problem we’re facing requires real action from these commitments.”
“The Danske Bank and other recent money laundering scandals underlined just how at risk the EU, and its member states, are to those seeking to launder illicit wealth. The question should no longer be if an EU wide money laundering watchdog is needed, but how and when will it be put into place. Only joined-up and wide-ranging supervision of anti-money laundering regulation and a serious sanctions regime can stop scandals like Danske happening.”
Global Witness also welcomes the meeting’s conclusions that reiterate the need for member states to transpose and effectively implement the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. This includes the introduction of beneficial ownership registers by 10th January 2020, that will publicly reveal the real owners of companies based in all EU countries and put an end to corruption and crime enabled by anonymous companies.
Our recent investigation showed how different European countries were involved in an arrangement that bears all the hallmarks of money laundering, enabling two members of the Republic of Congo’s presidential family seemingly to loot their own country and enjoy the spoils of dirty money in Europe. This makes Europe at least partly responsible for the tens of millions of dollars apparently stolen from Congolese citizens.
Tina Mlinaric said:
“In January EU governments will show how serious they are about fighting corruption. We expect swift action from the Commission if any member states miss the January 2020 deadline for unveiling the real people behind their companies."
Member States have also recognised the findings of the Commission’s supranational risk assessment for money laundering, and through this the “very significant risk” posed for the EU through the sale of EU passports and residency by EU member states to high net worth individuals (golden visas schemes). Global Witness is calling on the EU to phase out these schemes and stop those with suspicious wealth access to the EU.
Tina Mlinaric said:
“Recent weeks have seen Golden Visa scandals hit the headlines once again, but little action to combat the enormous risk these schemes present. The EU must get tough on states that refuse to take this important step. While exploring how to further enhance EU’s anti-money laundering framework, the Commission should also propose EU wide rules for a phase out of this dodgy schemes.”
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