On 8 June, the Council adopted its position on the proposed Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law.
The objective of the proposed directive is to:
-establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions relating to money laundering;
-remove obstacles to cross-border judicial and police cooperation by setting common provisions to improve the investigation of money laundering related offences;
-bring EU rules in line with international obligations, in particular those arising from the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (Warsaw Convention) and the relevant Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations.
"To conduct terrorist or other criminal activities, one needs money. With these new rules, our objective is to disrupt and effectively cut off the financial sources of criminals. It is a key dimension of the EU fight against terrorism and that is why the Maltese presidency has set a high priority on this file. We now hope that the European Parliament will be in a position to engage in negotiations with the Council in a timely manner, in the context of the ordinary legislative procedure."
The compromise reached by the Council achieves a balance between the positions expressed by member states whilst respecting the main objectives of the initial proposal.
Discussions at the Council focused in particular on:
-the scope of the definition of a "criminal activity" (Article 2(1)) where the Council compromise reaffirms that all categories of offences defined by the Council of Europe Warsaw Convention are covered as predicate offences, while references to existing EU legislation defining specific offences are also included to ensure that they are considered within the respective category. Furthermore, to address the growing threat of cybercrime, the Council agreed that this category should be also added in the definition of criminal activity.
-the introduction of a criminalisation obligation for self-laundering (Article 3(3))
-the link with the PIF directive, which provides specific rules for money laundering of property derived from PIF offences (Article 1(2)) where the Council underlines that member states can transpose these rules through a single comprehensive framework on money laundering at national level;
The proposal was tabled by the Commission in December 2016 together with a proposal for a regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. Both texts are part of the EU plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing and financial crimes. The overall objective is to further disrupt the sources of revenue used by terrorist organisations, as well as to improve the tracing of terrorists through financial movements.
The Council and the Parliament will enter into negotiations on the final text as soon as the latter has decided on its position.