WATCHDOG CLAIMS EU ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING POLICY ‘POORLY COORDINATED’
The European Union's approach to combating money laundering is fragmented and poorly coordinated, an EU watchdog found, Leonie Kijewski reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Anti-money laundering legislation has been implemented too slowly and unevenly across the bloc, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found.
"Banks in the European Union have been used for money laundering on large scale - and very often, of money that was originating from outside the EU," ECA auditor Mihails Kozlovs said at a press briefing. This posed, he said, "systemic and also in some cases security risks for the union."
The EU could be losing hundreds of billions of euros, the ECA found. According to Europol, 10 financial intelligence units in the EU in 2014 signaled suspicious transactions totaling around 178.8 billion euros (213.2 billion dollars) - up from 99.4 billion euros in 2013.
This constitutes, according to Europol, between 0.7 and 1.28 percent of the EU annual gross domestic product (GDP.) But instead of a unified and effective response to money laundering, efforts to combat the crime remained fragmented, according to the ECA.
It seemed money launderers, Kozlovs said, are "somewhat ahead" of the EU institutions' supervisory activities.
The auditors criticized for example that there was no system for the European Commission to ask the European banking authority - tasked with investigating breaches of EU law related to money laundering - to scrutinize a certain issue. It had only done so on an ad-hoc basis, mainly following media reports, the auditors found.