Brexit Throws a Wrench Into EU’s Fight Against Money Laundering
07 Oct 2019

The U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union is complicating the bloc’s fight against money laundering in the financial system, according to EU authorities.

Firms relocating from Britain could overwhelm the national bodies that supervise anti-money laundering systems, the three EU financial regulators said in a joint report published Friday. A no-deal Brexit would make things even more difficult by disrupting the exchange of information between supervisors, they said.

There’s a risk that authorities “may not be adequately equipped and staffed to effectively oversee significant numbers of new firms,” and that the robustness of supervision “might suffer as a result,” the regulators — including the European Securities and Markets Authority and the European Banking Authority — said in the report.

European banks have been hit by a series of scandals caused by insufficient controls against money laundering, with Danske Bank A/S’s Estonian unit being the most prominent case. Dutch lender ABN Amro Bank NV last month became the latest target of authorities, disclosing a criminal probe over alleged failures to check on clients and report suspicious transactions.

EU officials have tried to figure out what exactly went wrong with the financial system in recent years and have vowed to beef up controls. The bloc’s regulatory framework is fragmented along national lines, while financial markets are international in nature and money moves quickly across borders.

By Alexander Weber, Bloomberg, 4 October 2019

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