After a series of high-profile money laundering scandals, the European Union is facing pressure to create an anti-money laundering agency to combat financial crime.
European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure has called for such an agency to be formed, with the hope that it is set up before the end of 2018.
One way to establish a money laundering policing body would be to give new powers to the European Banking Association (EBA). Another proposal being floated is to use the newly established European Public Prosecution Service (EPPO), which can initiate cross-border financial investigations across the whole EU.
EU authorities have warned of serious weaknesses in the bloc’s money laundering controls. Among the concerns are what are described as “massive gaps” in information-sharing between EU countries over laundering.
“If you are in the single market, the strength of anti-money-laundering controls can only be as high as the weakest link. So if you have a weak authority, then the criminal money may enter the single market,” Andrea Enria, the head of the European Bank Authority, was quoted as saying.
Recent money launering scandals in the EU have included the Netherlands’ ING having agreed to an out-of-court settlement, paying EUR 775 million for failing to effectively monitor the movement of capital. ING was charged with allowing clients to move millions of euros without flagging suspicious transactions from 2010 to 2016.
In Denmark, Danske Bank, is investigating $150 billion in suspect transactions that were sent through its branch in Estonia. Its Estonian branch is already the subject of criminal investigations both in Denmark and Estonia as well as possible links to Russian wrong-doing.
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