Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory


In my opinion, there are countless precious and all but irreplaceable things that the UK will lose if it leaves the EU, including access to many of the EU-wide initiatives, agencies and programmes that make the bloc such a success.  And so it rubs salt into the wound when, in the very month we are holding an election that, in effect, will determine whether we remain or leave, the Council of the European Union has made up its mind on an AML-ish debate that I have been following for years: should there be an overarching EU AML body?  (Spoiler alert: yes there should.)

At a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council of the EU on 5 December 2019, Mika Lintilä (Minister for finance of Finland) confirmed that “fighting money laundering and terrorist financing is a key priority for the European Union”.  Facing a seemingly unstoppable flow of AML failings at large European banks, the EFA Council acknowledged that there are “a range of shortcomings with respect to banks, AML authorities, prudential supervisors and intra-EU cooperation and… that there is fragmentation in both AML rules and supervision.”  They therefore recommend that the European Commission should consider “the possibilities, advantages and disadvantages of conferring certain supervisory responsibilities and powers to an EU body”.

I cannot tell you how much I would like to work at such a place.  Can you imagine working in either Brussels or Luxembourg (where they put most EU agencies) – both stuffed with gorgeous buildings and chocolatiers – and being able to spend all day working on promoting the very best in AML…  But of course, why on earth would the UK want to belong to such an agency – after all, we’ve made such a marvellous job of preventing money laundering through our own jurisdiction that we have no use whatsoever for any foreign expertise.  And now I am going to hide under the duvet until the election results are in tomorrow morning.