Officials of the Ministries of Finance of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania met in Tallinn to discuss issues related to financial markets as well as the three neighboring states' legislative measures for preventing money laundering.
Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance Marten Ross said that these meetings between the three states' ministries are of crucial importance.
"Topics related to the development of financial markets, and first and foremost those regarding the prevention of money laundering, are something the finance ministries of all three Baltic states are faced with," Ross explained. "The prevention of money laundering is never a single state's issue, and cross-border cooperation as well as the regular exchange of information with neighbors is essential."
According to the Estonian ministry official, it is also of urgent importance for the three countries to harmonize their positions on how to manage risks in rapidly developing global areas, such as financial technology (fintech) and virtual currencies.
"We are taking the fight against money laundering seriously, and continuing our efforts to ensure that our financial environment remains safe and transparent," Ross stressed. "Estonia is not the place for money laundering."
Cooperation in regulation harmonization is also important in terms of developing local capital markets. Individually, the Baltic states are often too small to spark the interest of investors, who tend to view the region as a whole. Harmonized regulation of the three states' capital markets and relaxation of investment restrictions, however, would help attract more investors and thereby foster the Baltic states' economy.
The Ministries of Finance of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are also jointly working on creating common regulatory measures for covered bonds, which would facilitate their simultaneous issuance by banks in all three states and would thus increase interest in said bonds.
Fight against money laundering a priority
The prevention of money laundering is one of the priorities of Estonia's new government, which has also been included in the coalition agreement, the government's action plan, as well as the state budget strategy approved by the government last week.
In order to optimize the fight against money laundering, the Estonian government intends to allocate nearly €6.4 million over the next four years to increasing investigation capabilities and €1.3 million for improving the efficiency of pretrial criminal procedures.
Editor: Aili Vahtla