Money-Laundering Scandals Prompt EU Rethink on Policing Banks

(Bloomberg) -- European Union finance minsters agree on the need to build up the bloc’s defenses against money laundering in the wake of scandals in Denmark and the Netherlands, but they still don’t see eye to eye on what to do or who should do it.

The high-profile cases at Danske Bank A/S and ING Groep NV, and a reprimand issued to Deutsche Bank AG, have led to calls for an EU money-laundering cop. Some ministers backed this idea; others opposed even a modest proposal for the European Banking Authority to coordinate the efforts of national agencies charged with tracking illicit money moves.

Here’s a selection of ministers’ statements at the meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday:

  • Joerg Kukies, Germany’s deputy finance minister, said he’d like to consider giving the European Central Bank’s oversight arm a stronger role in combating money laundering. “The banking union is a natural starting point to be more ambitious, so before we make a decision for the EBA we would like to discuss and analyze in more depth the possibility to do more” at the ECB level.
  • Rasmus Jarlov, the Danish business minister: “We fully agree that we have to strengthen our common framework for fighting money laundering,” he said. “We’re ready to go as far as needed, and we’re also ready to consider conferring some money-laundering tasks to a union body.”
  • Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola called for the “creation of a financial intelligence unit at the EU level as the scope of combating money laundering and terrorism financing goes far beyond the supervision of the financial sector.”

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