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Government commission: anti-money laundering measures need greater domestic attention

28. June 2019 - 13:47

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, 26 June, the Estonian Government Anti-Money Laundering Commission discussed three main topics – analysis of money laundering incidents 2007-2014, further development of the legislative framework, and carrying out a domestic risk assessment in preparation for the ensuing Moneyval evaluation.

The head of the government commission, Minister of Finance Martin Helme, said it was important to understand what in fact took place in the Estonian banking sector in the years 2007-2014 and why the various control mechanisms did not function as well as needed. “For precisely this reason, in my capacity as head of the government commission, I sent requests for information to all major institutions related to supervision of our banks. At the commission’s meeting, we discussed the responses received thus far, and work will definitely continue in this regard,” said Helme.

On the topic of development of the legislative framework, the government commission received an overview of the current status of transposition of the European Union’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive V (AMLD V) into Estonian law. Both the government commission’s working groups and market participants submitted additional proposals for developing the legislative framework to combat money laundering. A number of necessary initiatives, such as significant increases in the fines for legal persons for money laundering, are already being drafted, and in July a draft amendment of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act will be sent to ministries and institutions for endorsement. All of the amendments important for transposing AMLD V into national legislation will require parliamentary approval in the course of this year.

At the meeting, the commission was given an overview of the current status of the Estonian national money laundering and terrorism financing risk assessment and preparations for the upcoming Moneyval on-site evaluation visit. The national risk assessment is a critical requirement for successfully passing Moneyval’s new evaluation round.

“Estonia will be up for a new evaluation by Moneyval in early 2021. On this occasion, they will be looking at how we implement our various laws and regulations in practice and our institutions’ actual capacity for dealing with anti-money laundering measures. As a country, we have to make an effort here, because the current situation may not be good enough to pass the evaluation. I have the feeling that a number of government institutions underestimate the potential risk that Estonia might be one of the countries subject to enhanced follow-up procedure in 2021. This would have its consequences for the country’s reputation, financial environment and related administrative burden,” said Helme.

Moneyval is short for the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism.

The activities of the Estonian government commission in this field covers the planning and coordination of anti-money laundering and terrorism countermeasures in mapping the state risks and preparing an action plan for mitigating the risks. The commission’s members are from several ministries, the Tax and Customs Board, Prosecutor's Office, police institutions, the Bank of Estonia and the Financial Supervision Authority.

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