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Ireland’s role in money-laundering 'seriously concerning' – Matt Carthy MEP

8 September, 2017 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has responded to the Europol report released this week which places the Irish State ninth on its list of top locations in the EU for transactions linked to money-laundering. Carthy is a member of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry committee.

The Sinn Féin MEP said:

“The findings reported in this report are cause for serious alarm and urgent action by the Irish government. Money-laundering is not a victimless crime.

"It washes the proceeds from organised crime that can have devastating effects on individuals and communities, including human trafficking and drug trafficking, and allows the funds to re-enter the economy with a veneer of legitimacy.

“The fact that the number of suspicious transaction reports reported to gardaí between 2006 and 2014 almost doubled to around 18,302 per year is likely to be partially a result of increased customer due diligence requirements imposed on banks and other institutions in recent years – so increased reporting can be a good thing.

“But just one in ten suspicious transaction is investigated further. And this figure of suspicious transaction reports is the ninth-highest of the EU’s 28 states, which indicates the Irish state is a serious centre for money-laundering.

"Over the past year on the Panama Papers inquiry committee, we have spoken to the Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) of many member states, and each representative we spoke to called for more cross-border cooperation among FIUs in combating money-laundering.

“Research commissioned by the inquiry committee also found that the assumption that FIUs embedded in law enforcement have better access to police intelligence is not true.

"For example, the Irish FIU is embedded within the Garda. But research actually shows the autonomy of the FIUs is essential to their efficiency, and their organisational independence and level of authority play a major role in this – findings we should look at more closely in Ireland.

“The EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive now requires each State to create and maintain a list of the beneficial, or true, owners of companies, which is a significant step forward in tackling shell companies.

"But these registers must be accurate and up-to-date – and FIUs must have ready access to them – and the same measures should also be applied to trusts immediately.

Carthy also commented on the Commission’s approach to creating a list of high-risk third countries for the purposes of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

“I questioned Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova on the Commission's proposed list during a hearing of the Panama Papers inquiry this summer. The Commission continues to rely heavily on the assessments of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the OECD.

"What MEPs have been saying to her for the past year is that the assessment process of these bodies have serious limitations, to the point where not a single jurisdiction that was named in the Panama Papers is on the FATF list and there is just one jurisdiction on the OECD’s tax list – Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Commission needs to take into account broader sources than just these conservative assessments. There is a wealth of academic work that indicates risks and deficiencies much more comprehensively than the FATF or OECD, which can play a major role in combating money-laundering internationally.”

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