´Panama Papers countries´ should be covered by enhanced due diligence obligations of the 5th AML Directive
The list of high-risk third countries subject to enhanced due diligence measures, published on 14th July, does not include many of the countries believed to be acting as tax havens for money laundering, and in particular, those mentioned in the 'Panama Papers'. The EESC opinion on the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive proposes that a new list of high-risk third countries be drawn up, or the scope of the measures be broadened.
During the EESC Plenary today, EESC rapporteur Javier Doz Orrit also proposed that "free trade and economic partnership agreements should include chapters to tackle money laundering, tax fraud and tax avoidance." The Committee adopted two opinions on fighting money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion. The EESC calls for a centralised European register of bank accounts, more transparency on the beneficiaries of companies and trusts, tackling the anonymity of financial transactions made with prepaid cards and enhanced control through cooperation of financial intelligence units.
"The legal treatment - definitions and penalties - of all offences relating to money laundering, tax fraud, corruption and the financing of terrorism and its connections should be harmonised at European level, as should penalties resulting from failure to comply with the AML directives", stated Petru Sorin Dandea, rapporteur for the opinion on Access to anti-money-laundering information by tax authorities. According to the EU body representing civil society, it is vital that the Member States ensure that their tax administrations have the human, financial and logistical resources needed to successfully implement the new anti-money-laundering rules. The EESC insists that measures to tackle unfair tax competition should also be put in place.
The opinions were elaborated as the EU is stepping up its fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion. The Committee strongly supports the EU's ambition to lead the way in the global fight against money laundering and terrorism, but underlines that this is only possible if all stakeholders join forces. With the aim to protect the privacy of innocent citizens, the EESC also calls for strong sanctions and penalties for misuse of the data collected.