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France Vies to Host EU’s New Anti-Money Laundering Agency

Paris, France

France is vying to host the European Union’s anti-money laundering (AML) agency, with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire presenting Paris as an ideal location for the agency.

Addressing European Union (EU) ambassadors on Friday (Nov. 17), Le Maire highlighted that Paris already serves as a center for combating dirty money and terrorism financing, Reuters reported Friday.

The establishment of a dedicated agency to coordinate AML efforts across the EU was agreed upon by member countries in 2021, as national enforcement was found to be inconsistent, according to the report.

Paris has several advantages that bolster its case for hosting the agency, the report said. It is already home to sister institutions such as the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority. Additionally, the French capital houses the Financial Action Task Force, a global AML body.

Le Maire emphasized that Paris has the best European ecosystem for AML and combating terror financing, which would ensure the success of the agency, per the report.

Furthermore, Paris has become the largest banking sector in the EU in terms of assets since Britain’s departure from the bloc, according to the report.

France has already identified three potential sites for the agency and is willing to contribute 15 million euros ($16.3 million) to support its establishment, Le Maire said, per the report.

However, competition is expected to be fierce, as Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner has made a case for Frankfurt to host the agency, according to the report. Lindner highlighted Frankfurt’s credentials as a banking center and its status as the home of the European Central Bank.

Spain, Lithuania and Ireland have also submitted bids to host the agency, the report said.

The European Commission (EC) announced its intention to create a new Anti-Money Laundering Authority in July 2021, saying that if the legislation went forward, the authority would set up operations in 2024.

A string of fines imposed late last year shone a light on AML failures at European banks, PYMNTS reported at the time. Banks were fined for not applying sufficient AML checks, failing to properly monitor customer transactions and having shortcomings in their transaction-monitoring systems.