Sven Giegold
Mitglied der Grünen/EFA-Fraktion im Europaparlament

Sprecher Europagruppe Grüne

EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova must not shirk her duty and put Serbia on the EU blacklist for money laundering

Members of the TAX3 special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance decided Monday night to abandon a hearing with EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova, as she did not appear to the meeting and sent a civil servant to speak on her behalf although she was in the Parliament building. The Greens/EFA had specific questions on the European Commission’s progress in the identification of third countries at high risk of money laundering. In particular, while the FATF added Serbia to its list of high-risk countries after Moneyval had identified several deficiencies regarding anti-money laundering practices, the European Commission so far has not put forward a proposal to add Serbia to the EU blacklist of high-risk money laundering countries. Furthermore, the draft roadmap presented by Commissioner Jourova in 2017 to assess countries presenting a high risk of money laundering for the Union has still not been adopted. In order to get our questions answered by the Commission despite the absence of Commissioner Jourova, we handed in our queries to the Commission as formal written questions (see below).

 

MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:

“The EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova must not shirk her duty and put Serbia on the EU blacklist of money laundering countries. In order to get the European Union in line with international practices, the Commission must immediately update the EU blacklist and include Serbia.

It is highly disappointing that the draft roadmap on the identification of third countries at high risk of money laundering presented by Commissioner Jourova in 2017 has still not been adopted. In order to have a tough list of money laundering havens completed by 2018 as promised, the assessment by the Commission must start as soon as possible.

While Commissioner Jourova had speaking duties in plenary, she could have at least partially attended the TAX3 hearing, to make an opening statement. The European Parliament has made the fight against money laundering a priority and expects the Commissioner in charge of this issue to respond to our questions.”

 

Written Questions to the Commission by MEP Sven Giegold

Question 1

Subject:

Commission’s commitment to do its own assessment of third countries at high risk of money laundering

Text:

In the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) 4, there is an obligation for the Commission to regularly adopt a delegated act with a list of high-risk third countries. Once on the list, these countries are applied enhanced due diligence measures.

In December 2017, Commissioner Jourova came to the PANA committee of the European Parliament with a proposal for a roadmap on how the EU will do its own assessment of third countries at high-risk of money laundering: the Commission will look at priority countries in 2018 and have a list of priority countries to potentially blacklist by end of 2018. Then it will assess a number of countries between 2019 and 2025 and will update the delegated act as regularly as necessary.

We would like to ask Commissioner Jourova:

  • Have you formally adopted and published the roadmap for the Commission’s own assessment of third countries at risk?
  • Have you started the work to assess priority countries, as promised to be done in 2018?
  • If yes, which countries do you consider a priority which will be subject to evaluation by your services this year?

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Question 2

Subject:

Update of the AMLD delegated act of high-risk third countries to include Serbia

Text:

Until the Commission puts in place its own assessment of high-risk third countries with regard to money laundering, it said that the EU list of high-risk third countries will match the one of FATF.

In February 2018, FATF added Serbia to its list of high risk countries. After the latest peer evaluation of Serbia by Moneyval, several serious deficiencies were identified (e.g. no supervision of lawyers, notaries or casinos; need to have specific customer due diligence for politically exposed persons; need for a mechanism to ensure timely access to BO information, etc.). Serbia made a commitment to change but in the meantime remains on the “watch list”. Therefore, we would expect the Commission to adopt a new delegated act to include Serbia in its list but no new delegated act has been published since December 2017.

We would like to ask Commissioner Jourova:

  • Given the numerous deficiencies identified during the last peer evaluation of Serbia, why haven’t you presented a new delegated act yet to update the EU list (to include Serbia) and when will you do it in order to get the EU in line with international practices?

 

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Question 3

Subject:

Money laundering in the EU banking sector

Text:

There have been several new cases of European banks being caught in money laundering scandals, including ABVL in Latvia, Versobank in Estonia, Dankse Bank in Denmark and its subsidiary in Estonia.

All these scandals show how vulnerable the EU banking sector is to money laundering risks. Banking supervision is fragmented and the European Central Bank – which has the power to withdraw banks’ licences – does not explicitly have a mandate to fight money laundering. The Chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism Board, Mme Nouy, herself confirmed that the Banking Union suffers from several shortcomings regarding the fight against money laundering. The responsibility for anti-money laundering supervision lies on national regulators which sometimes do not have enough resources to check the billions flowing in and out of their country or even worse do little to stop illigitimate flows. The problem will persist even under the revised 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive which will come into force end of 2019.

We would like to ask Commissioner Jourova:

What does the European Commission plan to end the shortcomings of the Banking Union? Do you support direct European institutional capacities and powers at the European Central Bank, the European Banking authority or elsewhere to fight financial crime in the EU and the Banking Union?

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Question 4

Subject:

Commission resources to combat financial crime

Text:

On 30 May 2017, President Juncker announced in the PANA committee of the European Parliament that he will increase the number of staff in the EU Commission’s task force on „financial crimes“, which then counted only six employees.

We would like to ask the Commission:

  • What is the Commission staff planning for the upcoming years for the competences of the task force? How does the Commission intend to match the important responsibilities of DG JUST in this field with sufficient human and budgetary resources?