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European AML experts convene in Brussels for the Common PEPs Register, Russia, and golden passports

This week, the Expert Group on Money Laundering of the European Commission will meet to discuss an agreed PEPs designation.

The representatives of the 27 EU Member States will debate the supply of a "consolidated list of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs)."

A registered list of PEPs is one of the "deliverables" under the existing AML/CFT legal framework and AML/CFT Action Plan, according to the agenda for Thursday's meeting.

The attendees, who are mostly EU ministers of finance and justice, will also discuss an AML database for the European Banking Authority (EBA). The new AML Authority (AMLA) will take over the EBA's anti-financial crime obligations later this year, when AMLA receives legal standing.

The Brussels discussion, organized by the European Commission's DG FISMA, will also include an update on the EU pilot on Beneficial Ownerships.

Later, a discussion on the FATF Mutual Evaluation Reports for Qatar and Indonesia is scheduled.

Given allegations that the Qatari government is orchestrating a cash-for-influence campaign that led to the arrest of Eva Kaili and other members of the European Parliament in Belgium, the Qatar MER may prove timely.

Delegates will also discuss the FATF's treatment of Russia.

This week, members of Ukraine's Financial Intelligence Unit stated that Russia's continued membership in FATF, albeit without decision-making capacity, was untenable.

Given Russia's membership in the FATF, Oleksandr Hlushchenko, head of the Department of Coordination of Financial Monitoring System at the Ukraine's Financial Intelligence Unit, stated that the international standards of the FATF are meaningless. The comments referred to reports of Russia and Iran having advanced plans for a new drone designed by Iran to be used in the war.

"I wonder if the FATF sees and reads such analytical articles. And if it sees, reads and continues to limit itself to the “expression of deep concern” regarding the behaviour of one of its members – the Russian Federation, then what is the meaning of all these international standards and the very functioning of FATF?"

He inquired, "Is FATF aware of reputational risks?"

Peter Knoope, an expert in CT, criticized Russia's membership in the watchdog. "It is almost a year since Russian troops and the Wagner group invaded a neighbouring state. And still Russia is invited to the table when the Financial Action Task Force in Paris talks about financial sanctions. It is as if the criminals can sit in when the jury takes decisions about the verdict ," he remarked.

He requests that the European Commission, which is a group member of FATF, demand that Russia be expelled from FATF.

The money-laundering usage of arts and antiquities is another topic of discussion.

In addition, the delegates will discuss the misuse of citizenship and residency by investment programs and the usage of the scheme, mainly by Chinese nationals and the role of cyber-enabled fraud and crowd funding in the financing of terrorism.

The latest meeting was held in November of last year. The expert group also includes representatives from the European Central Bank, Europol, the European Investment Bank, MONEYVAL, and the governments of Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.



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