The European Parliament and the EU Member States reached provisional agreement Thursday on strengthened criminal law measures to counter money laundering.
The new rules, proposed by the Commission in December 2016, will harmonise offences and sanctions for money laundering, ensuring that dangerous criminals and terrorists face equally severe penalties for their crimes across the whole EU.
Criminals use money laundering to convert, conceal or acquire the proceeds of criminal activities. According to the Commission, the proceeds from criminal activity in the EU are estimated to be EUR 110 billion per year, corresponding to 1% of the EU’s total GDP. The number of money laundering cases in the EU has been growing: according to Europol there were 148 money laundering cases in 2012, 202 in 2013, 221 in 2014, and 285 in 2015.
Currently, the differences between the EU countries in defining and sanctioning money laundering offences affect cross-border police and judicial cooperation and can be exploited by criminals and terrorists. The new strengthened EU-wide rules would improve enforcement in this area and act as a greater deterrent to terrorist and criminal activity.
Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on:
- EU-wide definitions of money laundering-related crimes, including practices that are not currently deemed a crime in all EU countries, such as “self-laundering” (situation where the person who has committed a crime tried to hide the illicit origin of the proceeds from that crime),
- EU-wide minimum penalties, such as a minimum of four years of imprisonment for money laundering maximum sentences, and
- an obligation for EU countries to add additional sanctions where necessary, such as barring those convicted of money laundering from running for public office, holding a position of public servant or excluding them from access to public funding.
- Parliament and Council negotiators reached a preliminary agreement on the new rules on 30 May and on 7 June the Council at ambassadors’ level (Coreper) confirmed the agreement.
The agreed text now needs to be formally approved by the Civil Liberties Committee, Parliament as a whole and the Council before entering into force.