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WHAT THEY SAID: ‘Money laundering poses a clear and present threat’ to Europe. ‘The scale of the problem cannot be underestimated and the loopholes criminals exploit need to be closed’ – McGuinness

By Elizabeth Hearst for AMLi

European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness has stressed the importance of the newly published “ambitious” EU AML Action Plan, saying it will “correct the gaps” in European AML enforcement

At today’s press conference on the announcement of the new AMLA, Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness was very direct about the danger posed by dirty money.

“Money laundering poses a clear and present threat to citizens, democratic institutions, and the financial system. The scale of the problem cannot be underestimated and the loopholes that criminals can exploit need to be closed,” she said.

“Today’s package significantly ramps up our efforts to stop dirty money being washed through the financial system,” said.

Commissioner McGuinness conceded that although there cannot be a “100% guarantee” that the AML plan will stop money laundering in the bloc, it will serve as a cornerstone for a harmonised anti-money laundering regime.

” We are increasing coordination and cooperation between authorities in member states, and creating a new EU AML Authority.

“These measures will help us protect the integrity of the financial system and the single market.”

McGuinness hoped there would be “strong political support” for the plan, which is “Important for the EU financial system and its people”. She added that the current fragmented approach has led to criminals “shopping around” for EU countries in which to launder the proceeds of crime. 

When asked about the €10,000 cash limit by AML Intelligence, McGuinness stressed that a trade off was necessary. She added that there was “a concern” regarding laundered cash, sloshing around the EU. 

The limit “ensures cash cannot be misused”, but allows for customers to give “generous cash gifts” to others. 

The vice president who oversees several Commissioners including DG FISMA, Valdis Dombrovskis was also present at the conference. The Executive Vice-President for an Economy that works for people, said: “Every fresh money laundering scandal is one scandal too many – and a wake-up call that our work to close the gaps in our financial system is not yet done.

“We have made huge strides in recent years and our EU AML rules are now among the toughest in the world. But they now need to be applied consistently and closely supervised to make sure they really bite,” he said.

“This is why we are today taking these bold steps to close the door on money laundering and stop criminals from lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains.” he added.

Valdis Dombrovskis added that the plan was “ambitious”, but said it would substantially help to fight money laundering in the bloc. 

“Currently some Member States have no limits” on cash transactions, and so the Commission wanted to impose a harmonised ceiling to curb illicit finance. 

Elsewhere, the European Banking Federation welcomed the publication of today’s action plan. In a statement the body urged the Commission for “some specifications to be laid down to ensure that the new EU AML Authority plays a useful role in preserving the integrity of the European Union’s financial system and the security of its citizens”. 

READ the latest analysis on today’s bumper announcement on AML Intelligence. 

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