By AML Intelligence Correspondent
GERMANY’s government believes Frankfurt has a good chance of being selected as the seat of the European Union’s new anti-money laundering authority, the finance ministry said on Friday.
A hearing of the applicants will take place next Tuesday, and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner is to represent Frankfurt at the hearing, according to his ministry.
“We are confident that we are well in the running,” it said. Paris, Madrid, Rome, Brussels, Dublin, Vienna, Riga and Vilnius are also bidding to host the authority.
EU policymakers proposed the new agency in 2021 to stop financial firms from aiding criminals and terrorists. Brussels has so far relied on national regulators to stop money laundering and terrorist financing worth billions of euros.
The authority, which is expected to initially have up to 750 employees, will directly inspect around 200 EU companies, primarily banks and financial service providers.
A joint committee of the European Parliament and the Council will decide on the location in February, according to the finance ministry. The official application was submitted in November.
Lindner argued that Frankfurt’s status as a banking centre and “neighbour” to the European Central Bank would facilitate cooperation between banking and money laundering supervisors.
Earlier this week Ireland’s Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath spoke to European Ambassadors to Ireland and the wider business community at an event in Dublin to highlight the country’s credentials to host the new agency.
Minister McGrath emphasized to the gathering the importance of the process of picking the location for AMLA concluding prior to the wind down of the current European Parliament.
He said Ireland was “ideally suited”“ to hosting AMLA given its position as a ”large independent globally interconnected financial centre” and a recognised technology hub, the finance minister has said.
The Irish finance minister added that Ireland wanted to take its EU contribution “to the next level” by helping to build out a major institution such as AMLA in Ireland.
The event also heard from Ireland’s Attorney General Rossa Fanning who said the country’s common law legal system would be an advantage in AMLA dealing with other common law jurisdictions such as the United States and United Kingdom.
Assistant Secretary at Ireland’s finance ministry Michael J McGrath added that the common law systems in countries like Singapore and UAE was also an added attraction for Ireland’s bid.
Ireland, one of nine countries in the bidding race, is also offering the most money towards funding the agency – €80M – and a choice of two office blocks.
Hearings for the competing countries take place in Brussels next week (January 30) with the winner likely announced on February 22.
The event was hosted by Ibec, the representative body for Ireland’s corporates.
Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “Given the global nature of the issues and the international importance of AMLA, hosting the Authority would further bolster the positive global standing of Ireland’s financial services sector, as well as many relevant sectors such as Insurance, Technology, and Cyber.
“Ireland has developed a strong standing as a hub for robust regulation and enforcement.
“The country is home to substantial investments in sectors such as International Financial Services, FinTech, Technology, and Cyber, and we have strong trading links with the UK and the US.
“Locating AMLA in Dublin would not only further enhance our reputation among international investors but also solidify Ireland’s standing as an excellent place to do business.”