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European Commission eyes new financial crime unit

  • May 07, 2020

The European Commission is considering the creation of a new authority to police financial crime and monitor banks more strictly, it said on Thursday. The suggestion came as part of a financial crime action plan sent to the EU’s 27 governments.

“An integrated system should be put in place” to tackle money laundering and financial crime with an EU-level supervisor, stated the document.

Supervision of the system at the EU-level could be run by the European Banking Authority – the regulatory body of EU banks – or done by “a new, dedicated body, the Commission said.

Currently, it is up to member states to individually crackdown on money laundering and terrorist financing. But the EU found in 2019 that its financial crime rules were being unevenly or partly implemented. There was also limited cooperation among financial intelligence units across the EU, said the Commission on its website.

Read more: German Parliament passes anti-money-laundering laws

The Commission would initially assess the impact of setting up such a scheme.

Markus Feber, a German lawmaker who leads on financial matters for the European People’s Party – the largest political grouping in the European Parliament – favored the creation of a new agency: “To fight money laundering in the financial system effectively, competences must be streamlined in a stand-alone EU anti-money laundering body,” Reuters news agency reported him saying.

Financial crime “warrants” a dedicated EU agency, reported Reuters citing Ferber.

The European Commission tweeted that its action plan would help “put an end to dirty money infiltrating our financial system.”

A history of organized financial crime

There have been several money-laundering scandals in the EU in recent years. In 2019, German police raided Deutsche Bank offices in Frankfurt as part of a wider investigation into a €200 billion ($220 billion) money-laundering scheme involving Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank.

Read more: Panama Papers report calls out complicit EU countries

German police also carried out a number of raids and carried out arrests, investigating the possible illegal transfer of funds from Germany to aid militants in Syria.

kmm/sms (Reuters, AP)

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