By Samantha Sheen, AML Director Europe, ACAMS
9 September, 2016

“Action Expresses Priorities” – Mahatma Ghandi

I’ve signed up for a notification service that sends me news about the activities of the European Parliament. Sometimes the information I received is amusing (for example, I didn’t realise that parts of Europe were experiencing a beaver infestation problem) but not terribly relevant to anti-financial crime.

However, on 2 September I received an otherwise non-descript notice called “Eurobarometer Survey: People Reveal Their Priorities for the EU”. Curiosity, and the fact that I live in Brexit-focused UK, tempted me to open the article and have a look. And the results of this survey made for very interesting reading.

The results reveal that 82% of Europeans surveyed think more should be done to fight terrorism. Of those surveyed, 69% thought that current efforts made to fight terrorism were insufficient. This topic was rated as the number one priority.

Second on the list of priorities was unemployment, with 77% of Europeans surveyed wanting more action on tackling the issue.

But the third subject on the priorities list was a surprise. A total of 75% of those surveyed wanted the EU to do more to fight tax fraud. Tax evasion is now regarded in Europe as an unacceptable criminal activity for which there is clearly no tolerance.

In July 2016, The EU published its revisions to the 4AMLD. Those revisions incorporated changes to tackle the issue of terrorism financing and to a lesser extent, tax evasion, more effectively. The EU also published its action plan for fighting terrorism at the same time. The UK, in turn, has made commitments to tackling tax evasion, most recently with its 16 August consultation paper entitled, ‘Strengthening Tax Avoidance Sanctions and Deterrents: A discussion document”. It’s also turned its attention to terrorism in the measures listed in HM Treasury’s ‘Action Plan for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Finance’, this April. And let’s not forget the recommendations by the UK Select Committee to strengthen the UK’s capability to fight terrorism last month (see my earlier blog).

From my perspective, the measures proposed at both EU-level and in the UK are aligned with concerns shared by the broader community.

There are a number of potential AML/CFT regulatory and standards-based changes anticipated or expected in the next six to nine months across Europe. I’m interested to see whether all of the undertakings given by the EU and the UK will be implemented.

Even more important though will be whether these measures – introduced to bolster the fight against terrorism and tax fraud – achieve the results desired by the European public. Let’s see the outcome of the next Eurobarometer survey twelve months from now to judge.

To read about the survey see: www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/top-stories/20160824TST40022/eurobarometer-survey