AMLi INSIGHT: Council of Europe calls for stronger financial intelligence units; says recent scandals like FinCEN have exposed an AML system that has ‘fallen far short of declared objectives’ - AML Intelligence
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AMLi INSIGHT: Council of Europe calls for stronger financial intelligence units; says recent scandals like FinCEN have exposed an AML system that has ‘fallen far short of declared objectives’

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By Dan Byrne for AMLi

THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY of the Council of Europe has criticised recent efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing and has stressed that financial intelligence units must be strenghtened.

In a resolution adopted in last month and announced Tuesday, the Parliamentary Assembly has invited all member states of the Council of Europe to improve their national FIUs and bring them more in line with the standards of the Financial Action Task Force, and its own FinCrime watchdog – MONEYVAL.  

The Parliamentary Assembly is a CoE body composed representatives elected to the national parliaments of its member states. It is entirely separate from the EU – although the two are often confused – and includes non-EU members like Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.  

By a vote of the assembly, the resolution calling for stronger FIUs says that recent FinCEN revelations have shown the need for change.  

“Numerous scandals, including the recent… FinCEN leaks have shown that national and international efforts aimed at combating money-laundering and terrorist financing have fallen far short of declared objectives,” the resolution said.  

“At the same time, successful confiscation of illegal assets represents a huge opportunity for States to generate resources needed to address the social problems caused by organised crime, corruption and terrorism.” 

“Urgent action to step up the tracking and confiscation of the proceeds of crime is therefore both necessary and potentially highly rewarding.” 

Among other things, the resolution calls for member states to do the following: 

  • Strengthen their FIUs to FATF and MONEYVAL standards 
  • Strengthen international cooperation between FIUs.  
  • Encourage “constructive dialogue” with between the public and private sectors. 
  • Allocate sufficient resources to FIUs. 
  • End any citizenship-by-investment programmes that may still be on offer.  

This last point is likely a jibe as nations such as Cyprus and Malta, who have come under pressure to end their version of these schemes, amid revelations that criminals had used them to access the European market.  

Overall, the Parliamentary Assembly does not have enforcement powers on EU-levels, and so the resolution would not have as strong a legal impact.  

However, its MONEYVAL agency remains active in monitoring the AML performance of European states – having recently commenced evaluation process of nations like Monaco and Estonia.  

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