09 Dec 2019
European Union finance ministers on Thursday backed plans for greater powers to combat money laundering after a series of revelations about large amounts of dirty money flowing through European banks.
The EU last year experienced its largest money-laundering scandal when it emerged that 200 billion euros ($220 billion) in suspicious payments were made between 2007 and 2015 through Danske Bank’s (DANSKE.CO) tiny Estonian branch.
Several other cases have emerged since then, the latest involving Malta’s largest lender, Bank of Valletta, which the European Central Bank said had for years failed to address dirty-money risks.
In a joint statement, ministers called on the European Commission to explore the possibility of transferring supervisory powers to an EU body and to amend rules to strengthen coordination among national authorities.
Despite criminal organizations frequently laundering the proceeds of their illegal activities abroad, the fight against financial crime in the EU is currently mostly handled by national authorities, which do not always cooperate fully.
Ministers said an EU body “with an independent structure and direct powers” over banks should be considered, reversing opposition to such a move last year.
They also urged a fresh overhaul of EU rules to fight dirty money, only a year after the bloc adopted the fifth revision of its anti money-laundering rules.
By Francesco Guarascio, Reuters, 5 December 2019
Read more at Reuters
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