What is the AMLA EU?
AMLA EU, also known as the Anti-Money Laundering Authority of the European Union, was created following identified weaknesses in the AML-CFT framework in the European Union, creating cross-border opportunities for criminals using the EU financial system. With the lack of harmonization and coordination at EU level, authorities have decided to establish this authority in order to “ensure efficient and adequate supervision of obliged entities having high inherent Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) risk, strengthening common supervisory approaches for non-selected obliged entities and facilitating joint analyses”.
AMLA will be in charge of setting a coherent framework for AML authorities of Member States and harmonizing the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in the EU. It will also help to create a common supervisory culture at EU-level. However, AMLA is not responsible for monitoring and tackling money laundering in the EU, as it remains one of the national authorities’ prerogatives. Nonetheless, AMLA is monitoring and supporting the correct application of EU regulations and directives across the continent. The creation of AMLA was officialized on July 20, 2021, through a comprehensive package of legislative proposals by the EU Commission, in order to strengthen AML-CFT rules. The package, considered as one coherent whole, also includes:
- A new Regulation establishing a single rulebook for AML-CFT;
- A new AML/CFT Directive, complementing the Regulation; and
- A recast of Regulation 2015/847 on information accompanying transfers of funds.
AMLA EU will be funded partly from the EU budget, as well as from fees collected from obliged persons, directly or indirectly supervised by the authority.
What are AMLA EU’s missions?
According to the proposal for a regulation 2021/0240 establishing the creation of AMLA EU, its main priorities are:
- Ensuring effective implementation of the existing EU AML/CFT framework;
- Establishing an EU single rulebook on AML /CFT;
- Bringing about EU-level AML/CFT supervision;
- Establishing a support and cooperation mechanism for Financial Intelligence Units;
- Enforcing EU-level criminal law provisions and improving information exchange; and
- Strengthening the international dimension of the EU AML/CFT framework.
Regarding virtual assets and cryptocurrencies, the competencies of this authority are aligned with the Digital Finance Package published by the EU Commission on September 24, 2020, meaning that AMLA will also supervise directly or indirectly virtual asset service providers covered by FATF recommendations.
In addition, AMLA will have a coordinating role and will help to enhance the exchange of information between Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) of Member States, by developing common templates for reporting and standards to be adopted. AMLA should also be managing the secure communications network FIU.net, for now, operated by Europol, as well as manage the AML-CFT database operated by the European Central Bank.
When will the AMLA EU be operational?
Although not operational at the time being, AMLA EU would supposedly be created in 2023 after going through the legislative process, to become fully operational in 2026. In the meantime, relevant stakeholders will be consulted, a collection and use of expert’s opinions will be conducted, and an impact assessment will be realized.
Starting 2024, AMLA’s estimated annual budget is 16 million euros, rising to 30 million euros in 2025, and decreasing to 12.8 million euros in 2026. Its location, while not confirmed yet, is likely to be in the city of Vienna (Austria). Its staff should be comprised of 100 persons at the beginning, up to 250 persons after reaching an operational level.