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15 November 2019

ECB's Mersch: Anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism – recent initiatives and the role of the ECB

Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, reflects on how might the European AML/CFT framework develop in the future.

Anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism are challenging endeavours. First, they involve several areas of law at both the EU level and national levels. Changes that lead to an efficient distribution of competences might imply the transfer of sovereignty from national to EU level within the existing Treaty framework.

Second, several types of authority play a role, including AML/CFT authorities and prudential supervisors. There is a broad heterogeneity of institutional setups among Member States, involving judicial authorities limited to cooperation and implementation, as well as surveillance authorities attached either to the executive or judicial branch, and their interaction with prudential supervisors. In other words, there is need to reflect on the most effective way to manage the institutional and functional fragmentation in this area given its inherent cross-border nature.

All of this makes combating money laundering and terrorist financing complicated from both a legal and a practical point of view. The battle can only be won through cooperation. All authorities involved need to cooperate – both within and across national borders. So Mr Mersch welcomes the ongoing debates about a review of the regulatory framework and the possibility of establishing an EU AML/CFT body. Within the limits of its mandate, the ECB will continue to contribute to this debate.

Important as this debate is, let’s not forget the responsibilities that supervised entities already have: to put in place and maintain internal systems and controls to ensure that they properly manage the risks to which they are exposed.

Full speech on ECB

© ECB - European Central Bank

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