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European Commission Details Further Plans for the EU’s New Anti-Money Laundering Authority

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The European Commission has written a memo detailing further aspects of the European Union’s new Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA), which is expected to be fully resourced by the end of 2025, with direct supervision established by 2026. While the memo has not been made publicly available, media outlet euObserver has reported on its contents, highlighting the Authority’s intended scale, logistics, and facilities. 

According to the euObserver, the memo outlines the following plans:

  • Staffing levels: The AMLA will begin with 150 staff members in its first year of operation, growing to 300-350 across the next two years, with an expected total of 400 when the Authority is at a “cruising” altitude.
  • Facilities: The Authority will operate within a 10,000 square-meter office, centering around a “very large meeting room […] with a table accommodating at least 50 persons at the front row, at least 60 persons at the second row, and 30-40 seats on the side”. Thirty highly-secure separate offices will also be built, each to accommodate a delegate from a financial-intelligence unit (FIU) representing one of the 27 EU capitals. 
  • Hosting criteria: While Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Spain have already voiced interest in hosting the AMLA, the memo outlined several criteria that will be considered during the selection process, including:
    • Proximity to airports and hotels.
    • Multilingual schools for staff children. 
    • Local job opportunities for spouses.
    • Geographic balance – the memo discussed putting larger candidates that already host two or more EU agencies at a disadvantage.
    • Willingness and ability to cover the building’s rent “indefinitely.”

The EU’s New Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA)

In July 2021, the AMLA was included as one of the four measures identified in the European Commission’s package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules. The other three measures involved:

  • Establishing a new regulation to have directly applicable laws regarding customer due diligence (CDD) and beneficial ownership. The Commission also said it would set up an EU-wide limit of €10,000 for large cash payments. 
  • Replace Directive 2015/849/EU with the 6th Directive on AML/CFT, which will be transposed into national law, including rules on national supervisors and FIUs in Member States. 
  • Revise the 2015 Regulation on Transfers of Funds to make it possible to trace transfers of crypto-assets.

AMLA Objectives

The European Commission identifies the objectives of the AMLA as the following: 

Key Objectives of the AMLA

The aim is to create a joint supervisory team between the EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority and local FIUs, to enforce a single rule book based on regulatory technical standards. AML investigations will be carried out jointly, and technical expertise will be shared in areas such as AI, IT solutions, and best practices for identifying suspicious transactions. 

Key Takeaways

The EU is becoming increasingly serious about the importance of AML/CFT and is willing to undertake radical changes to improve its performance. It will look to the private sector for a similar attitude, and firms need to be vigilant and well-prepared with the right kinds of people, data, and platforms to identify and mitigate risks.

While individual member states may go beyond the scope of EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority directives, firms should expect greater consistency across the bloc going forward. Countries outside the EU, such as the UK, may also aim to align AML programs with the AMLA. Additionally, compliance staff should expect more detailed rules on CDD, beneficial ownership, and the powers and tasks of supervisors and FIUs. 

A Guide to the European Union’s New AML/CFT Framework

Uncover all the proposed EU initiatives in detail, exploring their implications for compliance professionals to help firms proactively optimize their AML/CFT programs.

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Originally published 25 May 2023, updated 26 May 2023

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