Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : UK Calls for Tougher EU Action Against Money Laundering [October 1999]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 5 October 1999.

Economic Secretary Melanie Johnson today welcomed the European Commission’s proposal for an up-to-date directive on Money Laundering. She said:

“Money laundering is a very serious offence, with the capacity to undermine financial markets and to corrupt professional advisers. While police forces and regulators respect national borders, criminals do not. We therefore support a pan-European approach to crack down on the illicit profits of all serious crime as part of a wider agenda to enforce anti-money laundering standards world-wide.”

The European Commission’s Second Money Laundering Directive aims to strengthen existing rules for financial institutions and other business across the EU in the fight against serious crime. It would extend the current regulations to a wider range of underlying offences, bringing Europe as a whole closer to the UK approach. It also extends the obligation to maintain effective anti-money laundering systems to professionals – such as lawyers and accountants.

Commenting on these proposals, Melanie Johnson said:

“The UK will push for a tough directive to bring Europe more into line with the UK. The Commission’s proposals are an excellent starting point. But in some areas they do not go far enough. We want to see the scope of the directive extended to the proceeds of all serious crimes. And we will work with other member states to ensure that – where money laundering is involved – financial sector professionals cannot hide behind excessive professional secrecy.

“We also welcome this because the new proposal would oblige Member States to combat laundering of the proceeds of organised crime and fraud against the budget of the EU. The 1991 directive applies only to the proceeds of drugs offences.

“We shall be considering the directive carefully over the coming months, and welcome the views of interested parties. We will pay close attention to ensuring that the costs of compliance do not exceed the likely benefits. And we shall be working closely with our European partners to close down opportunities currently exploited by criminals. We will fight to ensure that Europe’s financial markets offer no sanctuary to dirty money.”