The Council of Europe's anti-money laundering body said today that professional "gatekeepers" who enable money laundering must be subjected to stricter AML regulations and supervision.
Governments must also increase their efforts and coordination to combat money laundering and terrorist financing by adopting stricter regulation and supervision of the crypto and virtual asset sectors, according to MONEYVAL.
More oversight is needed for "specialised ‘gatekeeper’ professions, such as lawyers, accountants and other services providers who often help launderers," according to the group.
MONEYVAL is the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing body of the Council of Europe.
According to the body, the growing use of cryptocurrencies and the emerging virtual asset sector are posing a significant challenge in the fight against money laundering. Because "traditional forms of control that banks and institutions have on financial flows and services cannot be used and financial products are made available through the internet from anywhere in the world.," the report warns.
"The ‘Pandora Papers’ showed that specialised professionals can be complicit in the large-scale transnational money laundering schemes involving corrupt politicians and high-net-worth individuals seeking to evade taxes, often using offshore jurisdictions and complex corporate structures," the organization claims.
It also assessed compliance with international standards and developments in the legal and institutional frameworks to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in the 34 jurisdictions in its 2021 annual report, which was released today.
"The Pandora papers scandal in 2021 demonstrates the growing scale of the money laundering threat and the persistence of launderers in abusing the international financial system to hide their illicit proceeds," said Elbieta Frankow-Jakiewicz, Chair of MONEVYAL.
"We are facing a combination of well-known money laundering methods and newer trends requiring robust action and coordination from governments in Europe and around the world," she added.
MONEYVAL has been working with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to improve their regulatory regime in recent years, which resulted in the FATF standard being modified in 2021 to regulate transnational operations of "gatekeepers" and improve their global compliance.
MONEYVAL concludes in its report that its member states and jurisdictions continue to demonstrate a moderate level of effectiveness in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
In the areas of financial sector supervision, private sector compliance, legal person transparency, convictions for money laundering offenses, asset confiscations, financial sanctions for terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the median level of compliance with FATF standards is below the satisfactory threshold.
In 2024, MONEYVAL plans to complete its fifth round of evaluations. Albania, Andorra, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the UK Crown Dependency of the Isle of Man, and Ukraine were among the 22 jurisdictions subject to MONEYVAL's enhanced follow-up procedure for their insufficient level of compliance with AML/CFT standards by the end of 2021. Armenia, the Holy See, San Marino, and Israel (the latter of which was evaluated jointly by the FATF and MONEYVAL) are all monitored by MONEYVAL on a regular basis.
By fLEXI tEAM