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IP/01/1608

Brussels, 19th November 2001

Money laundering: Commission welcomes Council adoption of new Directive

The European Commission has welcomed the definitive adoption by the EU's Council of Ministers, meeting in Brussels today, of the proposal to upgrade the EU's money laundering Directive. This is the final stage in the procedure and the legislation will now officially enter into force in eighteen months' time. The text approved had been agreed in a conciliation procedure between the Parliament and the Council (see IP/01/1441) and was endorsed by the Parliament at its November Plenary (see IP/01/1580).

"I am extremely pleased that this piece of important legislation has now been finally adopted" said Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. "Today's text widens the scope of the current money laundering Directive. Once again the EU is setting a new world standard in the fight against the financing of terrorism and organised crime. I sincerely hope that Member States will implement the Directive before the eighteen months' deadline."

Wider scope

The Directive approved today extends the scope of the current Directive on money laundering (91/308/EEC). In particular, it obliges Member States to combat laundering of the proceeds of all serious crime (including fraud against the EU budget); the Directive currently in force only applies to the proceeds of drug offences. The amendment also extends the coverage of the current Directive (limited to the financial sector) to a series of non-financial activities and professions that are vulnerable to misuse by money launderers. Requirements as regards client identification, record keeping and reporting of suspicious transactions are therefore extended to external accountants and auditors, real estate agents, notaries, lawyers, dealers in high value goods such as precious stones and metals or works of art, auctioneers, transporters of funds and casinos.

Background

The EU's Council of Ministers reached political agreement on the proposal in September 2000, and formally adopted its Common Position on 30 November 2000. However, the Parliament voted a series of amendments to the Common Position at its 5 April 2001 plenary session. These amendments were not accepted by the Council, so that a conciliation procedure had to be convened on 18th September 2001 to seek a compromise. A compromise was agreed by the Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives on 10th October and by a parliamentary delegation on 17th October. This was approved by an absolute majority of votes cast in a plenary session of the European Parliament on 13th November.


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