MEPs adopted by a large majority (534 votes in favour, 25 against and 122 abstentions) on Friday 10 July a resolution on the Commission’s Action Plan to combat money laundering and highlighted the most pressing changes needed to achieve an efficient EU framework. Distruption of the flow of illegal currency, interconnected registers of beneficial owners, a preventive blacklisting policy and effective sanctions are among tools proposed by the MEPs to stop money laundering.
Better implementation and cooperation
MEPs call for a zero-tolerance approach and infringement procedures against member states who lag behind in transposing the rules into national law. Judicial and law enforcement authorities in member states must cooperate more and share information with each other.
Parliament welcomes the fact that its proposal to create a coordination and support mechanism for Financial Intelligence Units (FIU) was taken on board. It would give member states access to the relevant information and support work on cross-border cases.
Effective use of data
MEPs want the Commission to address the persisting lack of quality data to identify ultimate beneficial owners by setting up interconnected and high-quality registers in the EU with high standards of data protection. They also want to widen the scope of supervised entities to include new and disruptive market sectors such as crypto-assets. Finally, MEPs reiterate that non-cooperative jurisdictions and high-risk third countries must be immediately blacklisted, while creating clear benchmarks and cooperating with those undertaking reforms.
Harmonise dissuasive sanctions at EU level
MEPs call for the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders to be enforced. This would make criminal assets easier to recover across borders and enable swift cross-border cooperation. In addition, they want the European Central Bank to be able to withdraw the licences of any banks operating in the euro area that breach AML/CTF obligations, independently of the assessment of national AML authorities.
In the resolution, MEPs recall crimes of corruption and money laundering which have repeatedly undermined citizens’ trust in fair and transparent financial and tax systems.
Finally, they highlight the valuable contribution of international investigative journalism and whistle-blowers in exposing possible crimes. They call on authorities to identify those who instigated the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and to investigate those against whom serious allegations of money laundering are still pending.
"This resolution is a huge success for the European fight against money laundering and shows the Parliament heeds our call for need stricter rules and new EU institutions in the fight against money laundering and financial crime. In order to properly tackle cross-border crime and money laundering the EU needs an EU-wide Anti-Money Laundering Supervisor and a Financial Intelligence Unit." (Sven Giegold MEP, Greens/EFA spokesperson on money laundering in the Economic Affairs Committee)
"The implementation of the directive on asset freezes and recovery is of paramount importance, as Europol estimates that 98.9% of estimated criminal profit remains in the hands of financial criminals." (Saskia Bricmont MEP, Greens/EFA spokesperson on money laundering in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee)