The negative impact of economic crime and corruption has been felt in Europe throughout 2020. The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing plays a central role in the work of the Council of Europe in protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in all its Member States. Countries need to ensure that they have the appropriate legal and regulatory measures in place to combat money laundering and corruption and that these are effectively put to use.
In this regard Cyprus has a lot to do with the transposition of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) and the 6th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD6) into national law, and the pending anti-corruption bill. However with Brexit now there is minus one Member State against the coordinated fight against serious crime, money laundering and corruption.
The fact that the UK is no longer part of the EU makes one wonder as to what kind of cooperation there will be between the UK and Member States in the investigations into serious crime and not only. Without doubt there will also be major changes in fighting regional crime and extradition policies as well.
This is because despite the fact of reaching an agreement and preventing a no-deal exit the UK will no longer be part of Eurojust and Europol which are the EU’s top law-enforcement groups. Eurojust is an agency that allows EU-member state authorities to collect and exchange information quickly, and fight crime effectively.
Europol, as a law enforcement agency acts as an intelligence and data-sharing centre for police, essential to locating and capturing suspects on the run and understanding the overall intelligence picture. Eurojust and Europol have been working together closely in the fight against serious cross-border crime since the early 2000s, providing complementary support to national authorities.
Concerning the European Arrest Warrant the UK will follow cooperation on cases of extraditions similar to those between the EU Norway and Iceland. The European Arrest Warrant, implemented in 2004, was designed to streamline the process of extradition between Member States.
Obviously the above could hinder investigations into terrorism, money laundering and other financial crimes and slow down the exchange of valuable information. One last concern seems to be the fact that the UK is no longer subject to EU sanctions with the UK introducing its own Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act) with changes and effects to this piece of Legislation.
This is a comprehensive list of persons, entities or ships designated under sanctions regimes with which companies are restricted from dealing. This updated sanction list will comprise of the designations which the UK has chosen to carry over from the EU regimes, as well as those that the UK is under obligation to implement under UN regimes.
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 will consist of a consolidated list of financial sanctions of those subject to asset freezing and another list for those subject to restrictions on financial markets and services. It is possible that many of these lists will not change but companies need to check their sanctions so that they make certain they are in-line with those sanctions of relevance.
The UK, which is not a member of the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone, gained access to Schengen information system last year after negotiating a special deal. The UK could negotiate new security agreements outside the EU. However let us all hope that there will be a way which would open up an effective co-operation between the EU and the UK for the benefit of all. Although devising a parallel arrangement would involve massive legal complexity it is what is needed urgently now.
Dr Louisa Borg Haviaras is PhD Oxford Brookes University