In its latest newsletter the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) warns that some of the elements of the European Anti-Money Laundering package violate fundamental rights:
Adoption of a position paper on the Anti Money Laundering (AML) package In its position paper on the AML package, presented by the Commission in July 2021, the CCBE stresses that whereas it supports the efforts of the Commission with regards to AML/CTF, some proposed measures have to be vigorously opposed. In particular, the CCBE is worried that the new provisions on the oversight by national authorities and by a supranational European body will erode the independence of lawyers and Bars from governments and other state actors. This independence is the key protection for the rule of law and the rights of citizens. Moreover, while professional criminal money launderers will always target AML-regulated sectors, the AML risk awareness in the legal sector is very high. Professional secrecy/legal professional privilege is a fundamental principle without which there would be no proper protection for clients and must be protected. Finally, several recommendations are addressed to the stakeholders. For example, European institutions must ensure that neither Member States nor the AMLA as the European supervisory body can directly or indirectly interfere with the independence of lawyers which is an integral component of the rule of law and the performance of legal services.
Other CCBE-articles concern a meeting at FATF, beneficial ownership regulations (R. 25 FATF) and public-private partnerships:
FATF meeting on Strategic Review
On 9 November, the CCBE was invited by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to participate in a Virtual High-Level Roundtable on the FATF Strategic Review: Consultation with Private Sector Stakeholders. The FATF is now conducting its fifth strategic review probably until February/March 2022. By March 2022, it should agree on core elements and documents for the upcoming 5th Mutual Evaluation round.
FATF meeting on Recommendation 25
On 15 November, the CCBE representatives participated in an FATF Private Sector consultation meeting. The aim of this project was for the FATF to improve Recommendation 25 (Transparency and beneficial ownership of legal arrangements) and its Interpretive Note to better meet its stated objective to prevent the misuse of legal arrangements for money laundering/terrorism financing.
Response to the public consultation on public-private partnerships
On 2 November, the CCBE submitted its response to the public consultation on “Preventing money laundering and terrorist financing – EU rules on public-private partnerships (PPPs)”. In this paper, the CCBE stresses that the PPPs should take place within a framework that guarantees the respect of fundamental rights.
Network of Experts on Beneficial Ownership Transparency (NEBOT)
As Chair of the AML Committee, Rupert Manhart participated in the first meeting of NEBOT on 9 and 10 October. By way of reminder, the CCBE was invited to participate in this project led by Transparency International – Civil Society Advancing Beneficial Ownership Transparency (CSABOT). One of the project’s key components is the creation of a network of academics, civil society organisations, journalists, experts, and other interested parties to follow the EU’s dedicated AML/CFT policy, mainly in respect to beneficial ownership transparency, as well as to support the development and improvement of tools to further the fight against money laundering and financial crimes.