European Commission chides Estonia over money laundering directive

The flags of Estonia and the EU.
The flags of Estonia and the EU. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

The European Commission decided on Thursday to send a reasoned opinion to Estonia and a letter of formal notice to Denmark for the countries' failure to completely transpose the European Union's 4th Money Laundering Directive into national law. The Ministry of Finance said that Estonia has applied the directive, and that it will respond to the Commission within the next two months.

Both Estonia and Denmark have declared the transposition of the directive into national law completed. The European Commission disagrees: some provisions are missing, a press release on Thursday said.

"EU anti-money laundering rules are crucial in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. Following the recent money laundering scandals in the EU, the European Commission considers it a matter of urgency that all the member states transpose this directive as fast as possible. Gaps in one member state can have an impact on all others. All member states had to transpose the rules of the 4th Money Laundering Directive by June 26, 2017," the press release read.

As hardly any member state was done implementing the new directive on time, the Commission has had to open infringement procedures against 21 member states. By now most member states have adopted national laws.

Estonia and Denmark have two months to respond. If they don't implement the necessary fixes, the European Commission can take steps that may include a referral to the European Court of Justice, like it has done already in the cases of Romania, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Finance Ministry: Estonia fully transposed directive into law

Estonia's Finance Ministry meanwhile commented that Estonia has completed the transposition of the directive into national law, and that it will respond to the criticism by the European Commission within two months.

"According to the Ministry of Finance, Estonia has fully transposed the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive of the EU into our law. We have received the European Commission's reasoned opinion and will respond to it within the prescribed two months. In our response we will explain in greater detail how the referenced articles have been transposed into Estonian law," Ott Heinapuu, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, told the Baltic News Service.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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