European Commission proposes new EU-wide money laundering rules

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The European Commission has proposed a series of anti-money laundering (AML) reforms for the European Union (EU), including the creation of a new authority, and a new supervisory system.
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The package of reforms will include a new EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA). This body will act as the central European body coordinating national AML bodies and Financial Intelligence Units to ensure that businesses within each member state comply with EU money laundering rules.

It will do this through creation of a single system for AML and countering financing of terrorism (CFT) supervision throughout Europe.

This framework is set to include more detailed rules on customer due diligence, beneficial ownership and the powers and task of supervisors and national-level Financial Intelligence Units.

In addition, the AMLA will directly supervise “some of the riskiest financial institutions that operate in a large number of member states or require immediate action to address imminent risks”.

The new organisation will also work to enhance cooperation between national-level bodies, in order to help these bodies detect cross-border flows of money.

Besides the new body, the reforms will also include creation of a “black list” and “grey list” for countries with higher money laundering risks, with countries on each list set to match those of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Last month, the FATF added both the Philippines and EU member Malta to its “grey list”.

Furthermore, a €10,000 limit will be brought in for cash payments. The European Commission said similar rules currently exist in two-thirds of member states, but should be brought in across the continent.

Finally, the new reforms will include ensuring that European money laundering laws apply to the entire crypto-asset sector, rather than only certain categories as is currently the case.

“Every fresh money laundering scandal is one scandal too many – and a wake-up call that our work to close the gaps in our financial system is not yet done,” Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice-president of the EU committee For an Economy that Works for People, said We have made huge strides in recent years and our EU AML rules are now among the toughest in the world. But they now need to be applied consistently and closely supervised to make sure they really bite. This is why we are today taking these bold steps to close the door on money laundering and stop criminals from lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains.”

The reforms will now be considered by the European President and Council. If they come into effect, the AMLA is set to be operational in 2024.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomed the rules and said it is committed to fighting money laundering.

“The European Gaming and Betting Association welcomes the proposals and reaffirms its commitment to work with all relevant regulatory bodies, including the European Commission, to combat money laundering in the EU,” it said.

“The Commission’s proposals follow concern and criticism in recent years that some EU member states have not sufficiently implemented and enforced the EU’s current AML rulebook.”

EGBA director Ekaterina Hartmann added that its members were already working together to create gambling-specific AML guidelines.

“We welcome the efforts of the European Commission to continuously improve the EU framework for combatting money-laundering,” she said. “EGBA members already apply the highest regulatory standards in AML compliance and are fully committed to tackling money laundering in the online gambling sector. 

“To support this, we are working closely with our members to develop EU-wide, sector-specific guidelines to help Europe’s online gambling companies comply with the increasingly complex AML rules in the EU.”