Brussels, 3 June 2010
Financial Crime: Commission asks France to respect European laws on anti-money laundering
The Commission has acted today to ensure that common rules on financial crime are respected in France. The Commission has formally requested France to comply with a judgement from 2009 (C-170/09). The Court ruled that France had failed to fulfil its obligations under the third anti-money laundering Directive by not fully transposing the Directive into national law before the implementation deadline. In its letter of formal notice, the Commission has now asked France to comply with the Court judgement and complete the implementation of the Directive. In the absence of compliance, the Commission may refer the case to the Court and ask the Court to impose a lump sum or penalty payment.
What is the aim of the EU rule in question?
The Directive is applicable to the financial sector as well as to lawyers, notaries, accountants, real estate agents, casinos, trusts and company service providers. Its scope also encompasses all providers of goods, when payments in excess of €15,000 are made in cash. Those subject to the Directive need to:
identify and verify the identity of their customer and of its beneficial owner, and to monitor their business relationship with the customer;
report suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing to the public authorities -usually, the national financial intelligence unit and
take supporting measures, such as ensuring proper training of personnel and the establishment of appropriate internal preventive policies and procedures.
The Directive also introduces additional requirements and safeguards for situations of higher risk (e.g. trading with correspondent banks situated outside the EU).
How is France not respecting these rules and why are citizens and business suffering as a result?
The Court judgement set out that France had failed its obligations under the third anti-money laundering Directive of 26 October 2005 by not transposing the law into national law before the deadline of 15 December 2007. As a result, common rules on anti-money laundering are not upheld at the same level across the EU, leaving room for current loopholes to be exploited.
Under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Member States are obliged to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgments of the Court. The Commission's request takes the form of a 'letter of formal notice' under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If the French authorities do not comply within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court and ask the Court to impose a lump sum or penalty payment on France.
Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Crime:
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