27 Feb 2019
The European Banking Authority will take a stronger approach over time to fighting money laundering in the economic bloc, according to the man nominated to chair the organization for the next five years.
Speaking to lawmakers on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Jose Manuel Campa said Tuesday that the European Union faces big challenges in coordinating the work of financial intelligence units (FIUs) and supervisory agencies tasked with anti-money laundering (AML) efforts. The authority, known as the EBA, announced Campa’s nomination for the chairmanship earlier this month.
“It’s very difficult to maintain a single market in the issue of compliance and AML that is robust,” Campa told committee members. “Let me put it this way: you can only be as robust as the weakest link in your chain.”
Campa’s nomination comes as European supervisory authorities are seeking to make the EBA the focal point of the EU’s AML regime—a proposal that could also place 12 more full-time staff within the independent agency. Under the plan, the EBA would shepherd national financial supervisors and FIUs to better stem the flow of illicit funds in the bloc.
But the authority would not function as a centralized AML agency for Europe, said Campa, noting that the addition of 12 staff is a “very limited input for a very large task.” The EBA’s mandate will be instead to act as a “coordinator.”
“I think that’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “It’s a road that we’ll need to travel further and that will need to have more integration.”
Questions by committee members on Campa’s approach to fighting financial crime and overseeing banks follow the launch of investigations by U.S. and European authorities into the transfer of approximately $230 billion in suspicious Russia-linked funds through an Estonian branch of Denmark’s Danske Bank.
A report earlier this month by Swedish television network Sveriges Television tied the scandal to suspected money laundering by some 50 customers of Stockholm-based Swedbank.
On Tuesday, the committee voted 35 to 8 to approve Campa’s nomination to head the EBA, clearing the way for his consideration by the full assembly.
Launched in 2011 as part of the European System of Financial Supervision, the authority replaced the Committee of European Banking Supervisors.
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