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Why Europe can’t stop money laundering

Money-laundering scandals have dealt another blow to the reputation of Europe’s financial architecture. Does the EU stand any chance of convincing the rest of the world that it is getting tough on financial crime and fixing the leaks in its system?


The recent wave of money laundering scandals has come as a big shock and embarrassment for Europe’s financial regulators. The truth is that European banks are far more afraid of the US authorities than those of their home countries.

And when the US flagged two big money laundering concerns in the eurozone banking sector last year, triggering the collapse of Latvia’s ABLV and Malta’s Pilatus, Europe could no longer deny its shortcomings.

Then once details emerged of a €200 billion scandal at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch – a case that has ensnared banks across Scandinavia and beyond – the EU’s hold on the problem looked even shakier. The scandal covered two EU countries, Denmark and Estonia, and a European correspondent, Deutsche Bank, after JPMorgan pulled out in 2013.