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European Parliamentary Committee Visits Anti-Money Laundering Institutions in Estonia

11. February 2019 - 9:55

Estonia was visited by representatives from the European Parliament Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3) on a fact-finding mission on the developments in countering money laundering in Estonia and the circumstances of the Danske Bank case.

Members of the Special Committee delegation met with the representatives from the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Central Criminal Police, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the press.

Comments after the delegation’s meeting with the Minister of Finance

Minister of Finance Toomas Tõniste:

“Money laundering is by its nature an international crime. Therefore, international anti-money laundering law must be clear and precise. The authorities also need to co-operate effectively at the EU level in this matter. Although the regulatory framework has improved significantly over the last few years, we must be prepared for new international risks, such as those relating to crypto-assets. We must solve the question of how to act more effectively when third countries are uncooperative or even help organise money laundering. We are happy to contribute to the debate on these issues in the European Union and to find ways to be more successful in the fight against money laundering. I hope that the Committee's visit to Estonia and the meetings here provided good input for that. ”

Petr Ježek, Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3):

“The meetings confirmed that the authorities have learnt lessons from the Danske case and have taken measures to improve the system. At the same time, it is clear that the EU should do more to assist member states to fight money laundering: there should be a central EU authority with strong powers, the anti-money laundering directive should become a regulation in order to apply in the same way in all member states, and national FIUs should be more harmonised and reinforced.”

Andre Nõmm, Member of the Board of the Financial Supervision Authority:

“The prevention of money laundering is now a priority for many European financial supervision authorities. It is clear that effective prevention of suspicious money flows requires effective international cooperation, including at the level of governments, supervision authorities, and police. We are making great efforts in the Financial Supervision Authority to keep funds of unknown provenance out of our financial system.”  

Lavly Perling, State Attorney General:

"Estonia's law enforcement agencies have made considerable efforts to improve the fight against money laundering. Law enforcement agencies were aware of potential problems at Danske Bank’s Estonia branch in 2012, when the first criminal case was launched. After that failure, we carefully scrutinised our work and started addressing shortcomings. By now, laws have been amended and we have achieved a close and effective cooperation with various anti-money laundering agencies. This is evidenced by the fact that a new criminal case concerning Danske Bank was initiated a year before the public debate on the topic began. As of today, the first suspects have been detained in this criminal case and we work on a daily basis to provide the public with comprehensive explanations of what happened at Danske Bank's Estonian branch.”

Madis Reimand, Head of the Central Criminal Police’s Financial Intelligence Unit of the Police and Border Guard Board:

“We have made a number of proposals in the government anti-money laundering commission to strengthen Estonia's anti-money laundering system. For example, reversing the burden of proof on unexplained health would give us one additional reason for money launderers to avoid the Estonian financial system. At the EU level, we see the need to provide financial intelligence units in the Member States with the support for a more comprehensive and prompt exchange of financial information, including through the establishment of a common pan-European platform of registers of bank accounts created in the member states.”

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