EU to suggest new physique to deal with soiled cash, paperwork say

Flags of the European Union flutter in front of the headquarters of the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium, May 5, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman / File Photo / File Photo

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) – The European Union is set to propose a new anti-money laundering agency and new transparency rules for the transfer of crypto assets, EU documents showed on Wednesday as the bloc on calls for tougher measures to combat it money reacts to dirt.

Europe has come under pressure to step up anti-money laundering enforcement after several countries began investigating Danske Bank over € 200 billion in suspicious transactions through its tiny Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

In the absence of an EU-wide authority to stop dirty money, Brussels has relied on national regulators to enforce its rules, but they have not always fully cooperated.

“Money laundering, terrorist financing and organized crime remain major issues that should be addressed at Union level,” Reuters said in documents.

The executive European Commission of the EU is proposing a new anti-money laundering authority (AMLA), which is to become the “heart” of an integrated supervisory system that also consists of national authorities, according to the documents.

“By directly overseeing and making decisions on some of the riskiest entities in the cross-border financial sector, the Authority will directly help prevent money laundering / terrorist financing incidents in the Union,” the documents read.

“At the same time, it will coordinate the national supervisory authorities and support them in increasing their effectiveness in enforcing the uniform set of rules and ensuring homogeneous and high-quality supervisory standards, approaches and risk assessment methods.”

The EU AML rules will become directly binding on member states to prevent criminals from exploiting differences between national regulators, the documents say.

Another proposal would introduce new EU requirements for service providers of crypto assets to collect and make accessible data on the originators and beneficiaries of transmissions in these assets.

Transfers of such virtual assets are currently outside the scope of EU financial services rules.

“The absence of such rules exposes crypto-asset owners to money laundering and terrorist financing risks, as illegal cash flows can occur through transfers of crypto-assets,” the documents read.

Sven Giegold, German Greens MP in the European Parliament, said the European Commission had put together a strong package against money laundering. Parliament and the EU countries will have the final say on the proposed rules.

“With uniform standards and more centralized supervision, the EU Commission is introducing important improvements to enable a consistent approach to financial crime,” said Giegold. In the meantime, the EU should take legal action against EU states that fail to properly enforce AML rules, he added.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Adaptation by Giles Elgood

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