Latvia pushes its AMLA HQ bid in Brussels

Thursday, November 9 saw an event held in Brussels, Belgium to present Latvia as the possible future seat of the new European Union (EU) agency, the European Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA).

Representatives of EU institutions and member states, media and other interested parties gathered at the permanent representation of the Republic of Latvia in the EU to familiarize themselves with Latvia's offer, according to a Finance Ministry release.

"Latvia has extensive and internationally recognized experience in the fight against the legalization of proceeds of crime and the financing of terrorism. However, we do not stop at what we have already achieved, but we are always trying to further improve our capabilities and be a good example for other countries in this field. I am convinced that Riga is the right place for AMLA's seat, including to promote geographical balance and European unity,"  said Līga Kļaviņa, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance for financial policy issues.

Currently, significant EU-level supervisory authorities for the financial sector are located mostly in large EU member states, such as France and Germany. The placement of AMLA in Latvia would contribute to the geographical balance of placement of EU decentralized agencies, the Ministry argues.

"Latvijas Banka [the Latvian central bank] has established an extensive, globally recognized and digitally developed AML monitoring practice. Our country has competent, experienced and dedicated experts in the financial industry, and we also have extensive innovative technological support to strengthen common European efforts to fight financial crimes,"  said Kristīne Černaja-Mežmale, a member of the Board of the Bank of Latvia.

As previously reported by LSM, Latvia has hopes of transforming its former reputation as a money laundering hub into that of an anti-money laundering hub by tempting AMLA to choose Rīga as the location of its headquarters.

promotional brochure and video have been produced which outlines Rīga's offer, naming Talejas street (already home to the tax authority) and the Preses Nama Kvartāls as potential sites for AMLA to occupy.

However, Rīga will face stiff competition from many other European cities that are also bidding to host AMLA, including FrankfurtDublinMadridParisViennaRome and Vilnius, most of whom have been flagging up their bids for some time already. According to one anti-money laundering industry website, Dublin is considered a front runner.

The deadline for Member States to submit their applications is 10 November 23 at 18:00. More details of what Rīga is offering can be found here.

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