Privacy fears slow spread of UK-style data-sharing to combat money laundering
30 Aug 2019

European banks are ramping up spending on the fight against financial crime, after a wave of money-laundering scandals on the continent.

However, industry insiders betray little optimism about the impact it will have on crime, let alone on banks’ reputations.

Rob Wainwright, a former head of Europol now working at Deloitte, gives a typical assessment: “Banks are spending more and more on anti-money laundering (AML) staff and technology over the past 10 years, but the problem of financial crime in the system as a whole is arguably not getting any better.”

A public-private partnership developed in the UK during the past three years is a rare point of enthusiasm. Some see it as a model for other European countries. Europol has even pushed for an EU-wide version, in part thanks to Wainwright’s legacy – he left the agency last year. 

Privacy concerns, however, are slowing a new push to emulate the UK approach, which has also faced separate criticism for bringing banks too close to policy decisions that could hurt their interests.

The UK scheme, known as the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT), gets more than 40 banks together with police to share intelligence and give banks a better sense of what they should be looking for.

The Serious Fraud Office, fraud prevention service Cifas and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are also part of it.

Late last year, the Financial Action Task Force, a multilateral body that monitors countries’ AML framework, described how JMLIT helped speed up the search for the payments details and related spending patterns for the van hire involved in the London Bridge terrorist attack in 2017. 

Similar models

Partly as a result, interest in the scheme is spreading. The establishment of similar models in countries such as Australia, Canada and the Netherlands, all following the UK’s example, has further piqued the curiosity of regulators elsewhere in Europe – especially in Scandinavia, where the worst scandals have happened during the past year. 

By Dominic O’Neill, Euromoney, 29 August 2019

Read more at Euromoney

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