At international and European level, various organizations, both governmental and technical, are involved in the prevention and combating of money laundering and financing of terrorism. As regards their geographical sphere of competence, these organizations act at either global or regional level.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization that was set up in 1989 within the OECD to draw up and promote strategies for combating money laundering at national and international level. In 2019, on its thirtieth anniversary, the FATF became a permanent organization, for which an updated mandate was approved, confirming its central role in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism & Proliferation, summarized in 40 Recommendations and completely updated in 2012, are the guiding principles that countries are called upon to transpose into their legal, administrative and financial systems. The Recommendations are accompanied by some Interpretive Notes and a Glossary with a set of applicable definitions.
The FATF works to promote and check on the application of international principles in order to strengthen the commitment of States and to increase the effectiveness of national measures for preventing and combating the laundering of illicit proceeds and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In 2013, the FATF drew up a new Methodology for Assessing Compliance and Effective Implementation of the FATF Recommendations that contains detailed criteria for assessing the technical compliance of the national laws with the standards and the effectiveness of the measures adopted. The Methodology is the basis of the fourth Round of mutual evaluations, in which Italy was one of the countries involved at the outset.
The mutual evaluation Report for Italy’s anti-money laundering system was published in October 2015. The outcome of the assessment recognized that the Italian system has a strong legal and institutional framework, a good understanding of risks and a generally good degree of policy cooperation and coordination between the authorities. The positive assessment was reflected in the high ratings assigned.
The mutual evaluation looked in detail at the UIF’s characteristics and activities. The results were particularly positive, with high ratings for all the UIF’s areas of competence. The Report recognized that the UIF is a well-functioning financial intelligence unit; it produces good operational and high quality strategic analyses that add value to the STRs and provide valid support for investigations into money laundering, predicate crimes and the financing of terrorism. The Report identified the steps needed to improve the national system, and provided specific indications on how to proceed.In 2019, the FATF approved an initial follow-up assessment report to Italy’s mutual evaluation. This report focuses on Italy’s technical compliance with the FATF’s standards.
As regards aspects of specific interest to the UIF, there is recognition of the explicit extension of the reporting obligation and of the Unit’s field of operation to include cases of suspected predicate offences, as well as of money laundering and the financing of terrorism (Recommendations 20 and 29). The new provisions are taken account of: they envisage ways for the UIF to access investigative information to support analyses, and at the same time, conditions and limits are acknowledged (Article 12(4) of Legislative Decree 231/2007). As regards international cooperation, the extension of the UIF’s field of operation to include predicate offences for money laundering also settles the question of Recommendation 40, by making explicit the Unit’s full capacity to exchange information.
The FATF’s activities, like those of other international and European organizations, also aim to strengthen the safeguards for the prevention and combating of the financing of terrorism. Efforts in this area have been increased to take account of the persistent and extensive threats posed by international terrorism.In 2016, the FATF approved a new Strategy for combating the financing of terrorism. This Strategy was followed by an Operational Plan that sets out in detail the work to be done. The Operational Plan underlines the need to strengthen cooperation between national authorities; international cooperation must also be extended by removing the barriers that limit information exchanges between FIUs. The implementation of the measures is monitored and the Plan is regularly updated to include the new initiatives that must adapt to the changing context.
The Egmont Group is the global organization for the Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), set up in 1995 to provide support for operational practices and international cooperation. The number of member FIUs has increased rapidly over the years to over 150. The Egmont Group manages and develops the protected network known as the Egmont Secure Web (ESW), which is used by FIUs to exchange operational information.
The Egmont Group promotes the development of FIUs, fosters cooperation and the reciprocal exchange of information and knowledge on cases of money laundering and financing of terrorism, draws up standards and common practices, and favour the establishment of FIUs in countries lacking such institutions, by also providing the necessary technical support.
In 2015, in order to deal with the global terrorist threat, the Egmont Group launched a project to analyse the ways that the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIL) is financed and the financial behaviour associated with foreign terrorist fighters. The project is based on ways to share information on the ESW platform on a multilateral basis so that all potentially interested FIUs can be involved simultaneously. These cooperative practices have made it possible to trace the financial activity profiles of foreign terrorist fighters and to identify support networks for activities traceable to ISIL.
The Egmont Group is structured into various bodies: the Plenary, the Heads of Financial Intelligence Units, a steering Committee and four permanent Working Groups.
The UIF has been a member of the Egmont Group since 1996 (until 1 January 2008 as the Ufficio Italiano dei Cambi and then as the Unità di Informazione Finanziaria per l’Italia).
The Moneyval (Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures) was set up in 1997 as part of the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Crime Problems. This body is entrusted with anti-money laundering policies within the Council and also acts as regional body of the FATF. Moneyval carries out mutual evaluations of the Council of Europe’s member countries, applying the FATF’s standards and methodologies.The UIF takes part in Moneyval’s activities as part of the Italian delegation.
The activities of the competent EU bodies involve producing rules and coordinating the Member States’ application of these rules and the cooperation between individual national authorities, at a technical and operational level.
Expert Group on Money Laundering and terrorist financing
The European ‘anti-money laundering’ Committee is chaired by the European Commission and composed of delegations from Member States. As provided for by the Fifth Directive, it assists the Commission in drawing up rules for implementation and initiatives for applying common rules. The Committee also coordinates the participation of Member States in the FATF’s work. The UIF participates as part of the Italian delegation, coordinated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The EU FIUs’ Platform
The EU FIUs’ Platform, chaired by the European Commission and composed of representatives from Member State FIUs, has been active since 2006 as an informal group for discussion and cooperation among FIUs. It was explicitly recognized in the Fourth Directive, which gave it an extended mandate to transpose and implement European rules of interest to the FIUs.
The Platform is particularly committed to developing means and tools for cooperation among FIUs, to drawing up criteria for identifying suspicious cross-border transactions and to promoting and coordinating joint analyses. It is also involved in the governance of FIU.net.
The Platform has completed a broad Mapping Exercise, coordinated by the UIF, in which it delineates the characteristics and shortcomings in FIUs’ activities (Mapping Exercise and Gap Analysis on FIU's Powers and Obstacles for Obtaining and Exchanging Information). In the Report, the analysis of the shortcomings is accompanied by an analysis of the related causes and is completed by proposals as to how to overcome them. A detailed work plan, which was inspired by the results of the Mapping Exercise and is constantly updated, identifies the Platform’s priorities in terms of where to intervene. Based on the analyses and the proposals drawn up, on 24 July 2019 the European Commission prepared and published a Report on the activities of and cooperation between FIUs and the role of the ‘European coordination and support mechanism’, as envisaged by the Fifth AML Directive.The Platform envisages advanced forms of operational cooperation and integration among FIUs at European level, above all by making the best use of important cross-border reports and working on joint analyses.
The FIU.NET network is the communications infrastructure for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) in the European Union. It enables a structured exchange of information on a multilateral basis and guarantees applicative standardization, immediacy and security for such exchanges.
This network, originally a project co-financed by the European Commission, has been hosted by Europol, the European Police Agency since 1 January 2016, based on a Common Understanding with the FIUs that ratifies Europol’s commitment to ensuring the network’s ‘full functional equivalence’, namely to safeguarding the functions that support exchanges between FIUs and the development of new forms of cooperation.
The European FIUs participate in the governance and decision-making processes relating to FIU.NET through an Advisory Group, appointed by the EU FIU Platform and called upon to draw up opinions and proposals for the competent Europol decision-making bodies.