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AMLA Task Force to prepare the way for a new super body to combat financial crime

It has been reported that the European Commission has established its own task force to aid in the establishment of the new AML Authority (AMLA).

The AMLA Task Force is housed under the Brussels-based financial services division of the European Commission, DG FISMA. The financial services team is led by Commissioner Mairead McGuiness and assisted by Director General John Berrigan.

Olivier Salles, a former member of the EU's anti-fraud body OLAF, and Dominique Thienpot, his deputy, have been selected to oversee the new AMLA Task Force.

This new area falls under the highly regarded 'FISMA D', whose director is Martin Merlin. FISMA D covers Banking, Insurance, and Financial Crime. The division includes the 'D2' Financial Crime Unit, commanded by Raluca Pruna.

"Task forces are established whenever a new agency is set up," a Brussels-based official said.

"The task force is there to assist the European Council along with the Director Generalate in getting the agency up and running."

Currently, numerous European nations are preparing their proposals in an effort to secure the AMLA headquarters. Achieving host nation status is a significant accomplishment, since it brings with it at least 500 well-compensated public service jobs and an annual budget of at least €400 million.

Presently, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, Vilnius, and Vienna are candidates. The Netherlands has withdrawn from the process to host AMLA in The Hague, citing the high expense of political lobbying.

"Once all of the bids are on the table, the task force assists in assessing things like the building, IT systems, HR etc," a source explained.

After the host city has been selected by Member States gathering under the auspices of the European Council, the task force will assist in publicizing the approximately 500 openings, hiring personnel, and staffing the Executive Board.

A top officer in the Berlaymont stated, "There is a lot for the AMLA Task Force to do."

However, none of these actions may be conducted until the host city has been determined by the Council. In addition, AMLA's legal status is expected to be recognized before the end of the year, following a vote in the European Parliament at the start of May. Then, a "trilogue" between the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission.

The Council will also determine the host city, which will require "horse-trading" among the various Member States.

"It comes down to whoever wants it most. Germany and France will have a big say but they will have to get others to follow suit. France is seen by many as having the most powerful lobbying operation but Germany will want something in return. You can also see that Madrid is beginning to flex its muscle in this space with its comments on supporting Morocco get off the FATF ‘grey list,’" a commentator said.

"Meanwhile, Italy will argue that it has the most experience in fighting financial crime and that is a very sustainable argument. While Lithuania will say it neighbours Russia and has the background to fight Kremlin dirty money infecting the European financial system," they continued.

It is currently anticipated that AMLA will obtain its legal status by the end of the year, but delays to date mean that it will not be fully operational until 2027 — a year later than planned.


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