Scandal-hit states oppose plan for EU scrutiny of money laundering
22 May 2020

A plan to boost European Union powers to curb the flow of dirty money through banks faced resistance at an EU meeting from member states recently hit by major money-laundering and financial fraud scandals, three officials told Reuters.

The EU is discussing how to strengthen its scrutiny of the financial sector after a spate of scandals in Estonia, Malta, Latvia, Cyprus and the Netherlands exposed how national watchdogs were slow at acting against banks who abetted or did not prevent money laundering.

EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, a former premier of Latvia, has refrained from proposing legislative changes but earlier in May reiterated possible options to clamp down on financial crime, including the transfer of monitoring powers from national watchdogs to an EU-wide body.

At a closed-door videoconference of EU finance ministers on Tuesday, Estonia, Hungary and the Czech Republic opposed the plan, according to three officials who attended the online meeting. They did not say what reasons the three countries gave for their opposition.

Estonia has been at the centre of Europe’s worst money-laundering scandal since media reports in 2017 triggered investigations into 200 billion euros ($220 billion) in suspicious payments made through Danske Bank’s (DANSKE.CO) tiny Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

That amounted to around 10 times Estonia’s annual economic output. A government official said Estonia has not yet decided whether to support an EU supervisory body.

By Francesco Guarascio, Reuters, 20 May 2020

Read more at Reuters

Photo (cropped and edited): EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/CC BY 2.0

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