In its first public committee meeting the European Parliament’s ECON committee discussed together with the LIBE committee the planned new methodology and revised blacklist on high risk countries for money laundering. Despite critical questions from all major political groups the representative of the European Commission did not move an inch. The hearing is the next step in an epic battle between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission about the weak actions of the European Union against financial crime from third countries. As a result the money laundering black list of the EU is now outdated compared with the global list of the anti-money laundering body FATF.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“The European Commission is ill advised to ignore the cross-party critique from the European Parliament. The European Union is obliged to the highest level of transparency. It is not acceptable to lock the public out of all deliberations on money laundering in third countries. As with the EU black list of tax havens, the public has to know when a third country is under scrutiny for favouring financial crime. The EU’s anti-money laundering blacklist needs a grey list. Equally as many documents as possible should be made available to the public.
Equally the European Commission has failed to reassure the Parliament that all jurisdictions blacklisted by the FATF will be listed by the EU as well. Albania should not get special treatment when it comes to financial crime. As an accession country Albania deserves support to fight financial crime. But, a general exemption is not justified.”
Background: the Green’s questions in the hearing.
As its last plenary session in February 2020, the FATF updated its list of high-risk and other monitored jurisdictions and included several new countries (e.g. Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Uganda). This usually triggers the necessity for the European Union to update its own delegated act. Can the Commission confirm that when it will present its new delegated act in a few weeks, all countries recently classified by FATF as “to be monitored” will be included in the European list? If not, what are the reasons for some of these countries receiving special treatment?
The new methodology for identifying high risk third countries includes several steps until the Commission actually lists such countries into its delegated act. As confirmed by your written answer received today, you indicate that the Commission will ensure full transparency with the co-legislators throughout the process but there will be no information available to the public during what you call “the preliminary phase of assessment”.
- FATF works with a sort of grey list – its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring – lists all countries with strategic deficiencies, in order to know which countries should resolve swiftly their issues before being re-assessed by FATF (and eventually taken out of the list)
- The EU blacklist of tax havens (from Member States) publishes letter of commitments that third countries have to implement if they don’t want to end up on the EU blacklist (subject to pre-agreement by the third country in question).
Can you therefore confirm that the Commission will unfortunately be less transparent (to the public) than the Council or FATF are in similar processes? Despite the Commission being the guardian of the Treaty and the obligation of the Union to be transparent?
Background to the background:
FATF list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring.
Jurisdictions under increased monitoring are actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. When the FATF places a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, it means the country has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring. This list is often externally referred to as the ‘grey list’.
The FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) continue to work with the jurisdictions noted below and to report on the progress made in addressing the identified strategic deficiencies. The FATF calls on these jurisdictions to complete their agreed action plans expeditiously and within the proposed timeframes. The FATF welcomes their commitment and will closely monitor their progress. The FATF does not call for the application of enhanced due diligence to be applied to these jurisdictions, but encourages its members to take into account the information presented below in their risk analysis.
The FATF continues to identify additional jurisdictions, on an on-going basis, that have strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. A number of jurisdictions have not yet been reviewed by the FATF and FSRBs.