Blacklist: EU Commission names money laundering states

The EU Commission is tough: According to SPIEGEL information, the new blacklist of money laundering states should also list Panama and Saudi Arabia. Germany wanted to prevent that.

It took a long time, but now it probably goes ahead: The EU Commission will present a blacklist on Wednesday, according to information from SPIEGEL, which lists 23 countries at high risk for money laundering and terrorist financing, including Panama and Saudi Arabia ,

Ironically, these two countries - Panama has long been considered an oasis for dodgy financial transactions, Saudi Arabia as a source of income for terrorists - in recent days fierce dispute between the European Commission and the Council of the Member States flared up. The United Kingdom, with the support of other EU countries, including Spain, France, Italy and Germany, has initially sought to remove Panama and Saudi Arabia from the list. In addition, there should have been fundamental criticism of the list in the Council, such as that it applies too strict standards.

In fact, the EU Commission uses its own methodology in its list: Based on data from the EU police department Europol, the European External Action Service and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it is to be decided which countries are most at risk of money laundering. Initially, the Commission merely wanted to be on the list of the FATF, an international anti-money laundering organization founded in 1989. However, it contains only eleven states. Panama and Saudi Arabia are not among them. The result: The European Parliament, which also has to give its blessing to the blacklist, turned in January 2017.

Vain interventions by Saudi Arabia and Panama

In the second attempt, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is now much harder against the money launderers. It risks both the conflict with some of the big EU states and with the countries on the list. In early February, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Dzhubir personally addressed Commissioner Jourova in Brussels - apparently without success. Panama is said to have tried at the last minute to intervene. With Washington also threatens new trouble, because on the list are reportedly US areas such as the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

If the Council of the EU Member States and the Parliament raise no objections for one month, the blacklist will be implemented in accordance with the Commission proposal. The affected states will then find it more difficult to do certain business with the EU. European banks and other companies, for example, need to look more closely at partners in the risk countries, for example, to clarify what the transaction should be and where the money comes from.

The Commission is optimistic that the list will come. That the Council is still tipping the project, is considered unlikely. To do so, the governments of the states concerned would not only have to make their objections public, but would only have to comment on expert panels. They would also have to organize a qualified majority of 16 of the 28 member countries, which together make up at least 65 percent of the EU population.

No resistance in parliament

Even from the EU Parliament is expected no more resistance, there were the calls for a tougher action two years ago, finally loudest. The CSU finance politician Markus Ferber, for example, accused the commission of "refusing to work".

On the other hand, Commissioner Jourova is attracted by the new list. It is "an important step forward against dirty money in Europe," says Green MEP Sven Giegold. It was "disappointing" that the federal government also tried to remove Saudi Arabia and Panama from the list. "Good that the EU Commission has remained tough," said Giegold.

However, not only does the Commission have to publish, as planned, why the risk countries have been included in the blacklist - but also to make transparent why other states do not appear there, such as Russia or Azerbaijan.