Court of Justice of the European Union fines two member states for AML failings

The Court of Justice of the European Union today fined

Romania EUR 3 million & Ireland EUR 2 million

for failure to transpose in full the fourth money laundering directive and for failing to notify the European Commission of the transposition measures that they had undertook.

Here is what happened

  • Nine other EU27 Member States are still subject to infringement procedures

  • Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands are now to be referred to the CJEU for incomplete transposition of the directive

  • Six other Member States are at stage one or two of EU infringement procedures

What we think about it

Here at Lysis, we remain sceptical of the EU plans both for the European Banking Authority’s new role as an anti-money laundering (AML) ‘supervisor of supervisors’ and the further ambitious plan for a central pan-EU27 AML regulator.

Compliance with the existing AML regime at the Member State level appears largely optional and the fines imposed are ludicrously microscopic compared to each country’s GDP.

As the UK seeks ‘equivalence’ rulings on AML matters, the EU statements are increasingly absurd –

'Prime Minister Johnson agreed, in paragraph 82 of the Political Declaration that our agreement should cover anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing. We are very far from this objective.’

Michel Barnier 5 June 2020

  • The fines imposed on Romania and Ireland were made for technical non-compliance (a rules-based box ticking exercise).

  • The EU fails to take risk-based action on AML issues despite the Danske Bank EUR 200 billion money laundering fiasco.

On 13 March 2020 Valdis Dombrovskis wrote to the UK Chancellor in astonishing and dismissive terms –

‘We are mapping the equivalence areas internally, and my teams will reach out to yours soon to collect evidence about the UK frameworks applying after the transition period, in line with our existing practice on equivalence assessments. I note that equivalence assessment will have to be forward-looking, taking into account of overall developments, including any divergences of UK rules from EU rules.’

The UK is and always has been wholly compliant with EU requirements (and international norms) with respect to AML.