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Banking

EU’s anti-money laundering body finally takes shape

Europe is belatedly setting up an anti-money laundering (AML) supervisor, even an EU financial intelligence unit, but the plan faces tough political tests ahead.

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The European Union is finally moving to seal a gaping chasm in the internal market’s institutional makeup, with a new anti-money laundering authority, and a common structure for financial intelligence-gathering.

In a sign of the political tests the new powers will face, the EU has already stopped short of what the European Parliament says is a vital third element – namely a financial police force with investigative capabilities.

The scandals have become so big and frequent in Europe recently that even Germany has signed up to the idea of a single supervisor for anti-money laundering controls. Deutsche Bank’s role as the main correspondent to Danske Bank Estonia, for example, adds to its compliance troubles. Now a US investigation into the scandal around Danske’s offshore clients in Estonia gives more reason for investors to steer clear of Deutsche, and other European banks.

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Nicolas Véron,
Bruegel

Just last month, SEB joined other Nordic lenders hit by questions about offshore Baltic clients, causing its shares to tumble 10%, thanks to investigative reporting by the same Swedish television station that triggered the exits of Swedbank’s chief executive and chairman earlier this year.




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