Frankfurt foils Rīga's effort to become EU anti-money laundering capital

An attempt by Latvia to lure the headquarters of a new European Union anti-money laundering authority to Rīga failed February 22 with confirmation that it will instead be located in Frankfurt, Germany.

"Frankfurt has been chosen by Parliament and Council as the seat of AMLA, the EU’s new enforcer in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. In a joint vote on Thursday, MEPs and EU ambassadors chose Frankfurt to host the EU’s central enforcer in the fight against dirty money, the Authority for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLA)," said an official release from the European Parliament.

Nine candidates in total applied to host AMLA and presented their candidacies in joint public hearings. In the vote, Frankfurt received a majority of valid votes in the first round of voting, and was thus chosen to host the agency.

Co-rapporteurs Emil Radev (EPP, Bulgaria) and Eva Maria Poptcheva (Renew, Spain) said: “AMLA will be a game-changer in cracking down on dirty money in the EU. It will supervise the riskiest financial entities, oversee the non-financial sector, and play a crucial role in stopping evaders from circumventing targeted financial sanctions.

"Now that Parliament has an equal say in choosing the agency’s seat, we have made the process more transparent with joint public hearings, and introduced specific selection criteria to ensure that the location enables the Authority to fully execute its tasks and powers. Congratulations to the winner, Frankfurt!”

For the first time, a new EU agency’s host city was agreed between the Parliament and Council on an equal footing, following a Court of Justice of the European Union ruling to that effect.

The AMLA regulation is part of a wider package of laws to reform the EU’s framework for combatting money-laundering and terrorist financing. Now that the entire package has been provisionally agreed between Parliament and Council, they need to be formally adopted by both before they can enter into law. Parliament is expected to vote on its final approval in the plenary session of 22-25 April.

Once adopted, the AMLA regulation will apply from July 2025. Before then, the European Commission is responsible for establishing the Authority and for its initial operations.

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