New EU-wide measures countering money laundering entered into force on Monday by criminal law.
According to a European Commission statement, although all EU member-states crimininalize money laundering, the definitions and penalties related to the crime differ in each country. This made it difficult to prosecutre suspects.
The new measures “will ensure that dangerous criminals and terrorists face equally severe penalties for money laundering wherever they are in the EU, with a minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years,” a statement by the European Commission said.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said, “If we want to catch criminals and terrorists, we have to follow the money. Today, we are beefing up the EU’s response to money laundering, making sure that criminals and terrorists no longer get away with illegally gained money and face deserved justice. A Europe that protects is a Europe that effectively prevents and prosecutes criminals.”
The harmonizing of offences and sanctions for money laundering across the EU was proposed by the Commission in December 2017. The differences between member-states allowed criminals “to effectively ‘window shop’ and exploit the differences between national legislation,” the Commission said, but “with the new rules in force that will be no longer possible.”
It added that member-states now have 24 months to implement the new rules into national law and notify the Commission accordingly.