Removing the financial control of mafia organisations over banks should be a priority in the EU’s fight against organised crime. Monitoring high-risk clients’ activities and sharing information on an EU database are among the proposals debated at a public hearing organised by the special committee on organised crime on Monday. Speakers also said taxing online gambling could help.
“Would the future banking union help fight money laundering?” asked Salvatore Iacolino (EPP, IT), the MEP responsible for drafting the committee’s final proposals.
“Banks should act as they used to: financing activities, and not contributing to supporting money laundering and gambling”, said Antonio Maria Costa, former Under-Secretary-General of the UN. He added: “Banks are seeking liquidity after the financial crisis. Now the focus is on how to remove the mafia’s financial control over banks”.
EU banking database
Concerned about reducing mafias’ financial clout, several MEPs, including Mario Borghezio (EFD, IT), raised the issue of combating tax havens. Bill Newton-Dunn (ALDE, UK) said EU countries should be applying the same standards when it comes to monitoring the clients of banks.
“Banks should know high-risk clients and follow their activities through a unique European database for all the banks of the member states”, said René Wack, chair of the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC). “We should create a European unit of financial information”, proposed Jean-Claude Delepiere, president of the Belgian financial intelligence unit.
Every attempt to track money flows should be carefully counterbalanced with “full respect of personal data”, warned Tania Fajon (S&D, SL), reacting to experts’ proposals.
Online gambling should be taxed throughout the EU
“Gambling is just a perfect tool for money laundering, because it is complicated to chase money flows. The major issue is that often online gambling is tax free, so it is a cheap resource for organised crime: the very first step is to tax this flow of money”, said Ingo Fiedler, professor at the University of Hamburg.
The special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering was set up to assess the impact of mafia-type activities on the EU’s economy and society and to recommend legislation and other measures to equip the EU to respond to these threats at international, European and national levels.