On 5 October 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Dimitrios Papadimoulis of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“On 20 September 2020, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a series of archives (the ‘FinCEN files’) revealing the involvement of dozens of banks in the laundering of over USD 2 trillion worldwide between 1999 and 2017. The finger has also been pointed at banks in 25 EU Member States accused of involvement in suspicious transactions as recipients, intermediaries or originators.
The release of the FinCEN files comes in the wake of previous revelations (Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, LuxLeaks, CumEx), illustrating yet again, the lack of effective control mechanisms to combat money laundering.
In view of the above:
1. What is the Commission’s assessment of the effectiveness of anti-money-laundering measures, the implementation of the relevant EU legislation and the level of cooperation between the Member States, bearing in mind that the remit of the European Banking Authority is still limited to coordinating the work of the national authorities without any possibility of intervening actively, while the financial intelligence units are still producing only limited results?
2. Does it intend to take immediate additional measures to beef up anti-money laundering laws and framework provisions penalise offending banks and bring into being an independent, pan-European audit body with an effective powers of control and deterrence?
3. Has it instigated any investigations into the responsibility of the relevant EU supervisory authorities, agencies and bodies in this connection?”
On 29 January 2021, Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union Commissioner Mairead McGuinness responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission’s 2019 package of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) revealed possible weaknesses in the framework and implementation at national level, which may have been exploited in several high-profile cases of money laundering in recent years. A first reaction was to reinforce the coordination power of the European Banking Authority from the start of 2020. Cooperation between Member State Financial Intelligence Units needs to be enhanced.
The Commission adopted an Action Plan on AML/CFT on 7 May 2020, with six pillars, three of which will form part of a major legislative initiative scheduled for early 2021: the creation of a single rulebook for EU AML/CFT rules, the establishment of an EU AML/CFT Authority, and the setting-up of a central support and coordination mechanism for Financial Intelligence
Units in the EU. Other pillars are enhancing the EU role in international forums and facilitating Public-Private Partnerships in AML/CFT.
Enforcement is a key pillar of the action plan. Currently, a number of Member States are subject to infringement proceedings for late transposition of the 5th AML Directive. All Member States were subject to infringement proceedings for late transposition of the 4th AMLD, but only one has still not transposed it. Eleven Member States have received Country-Specific Recommendations in the AML area in the context of the 2020 European Semester exercise. The Commission has mandated the Council to report on the implementation and enforcement of the AML/CFT rules in each Member States. The reports should be completed in 2021. The Commission is following up on findings and work with national authorities. The Commission will not hesitate to take additional legal steps if needed.”
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