German, EU Officials Discuss Sweeping AML Reforms

Koos Couvée
London Bureau Chief

A German official said Tuesday that his agency is “already investing” resources into helping the Anti-Money Laundering Authority, the EU’s impending, bloc-wide AML regulator, begin facilitating regular exchanges of financial intelligence upon launching next year.

The centerpiece of reforms designed to strengthen and harmonize AML rules across the EU, the AMLA will directly supervise 40 high-risk, cross-border financial institutions, monitor supervision at the national level and serve as a portal for the bloc’s 27 financial intelligence units to share details of suspicious transactions and other confidential information.

Daniel Thelesklaf, who has led Germany’s FIU since July 2023, said at The Assembly Europe in Amsterdam on Tuesday that his agency would soon “make people available” to help the AMLA hit the ground running after the EU picked Frankfurt to host the new agency.

“Although AMLA is predominantly a supervisor, the add-on element with regard to FIUs, which is supporting cross-border analysis, is more than welcome,” Thelesklaf said. “AMLA will give us the software and the technical tools to analyze information jointly—it’s a huge opportunity.”

AMLA will host, a secure network through which the EU’s 27 national FIUs share financial intelligence, and also establish a “coordination and support mechanism” to help officials more easily identify transnational money-laundering schemes and rapidly disseminate case leads across the bloc in priority cases.

Thelesklaf separately discussed his FIU’s efforts to raise its headcount to around 800 personnel over the next few years, and preparations to fold into a broader national agency in Germany, the Federal Office for Combating Financial Crime, or BBF, in 2025.

German lawmakers are now reviewing legislation to establish the new agency and furnish it with the powers and resources it will require to analyze financial intelligence, pursue and coordinate major money-laundering cases, tackle sanctions evasion and supervise businesses outside the financial sector for AML purposes.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner disclosed his government’s intention to create the BBF in August 2022, days before the Financial Action Task Force criticized Germany for failing to use financial intelligence effectively and bring a sufficient number of cases against suspects in complex financial crimes.

“If you boil down the concerns that FATF had about Germany, it’s the lack of prioritization [of AML enforcement],” the FIU chief told attendees of the ACAMS-hosted conference in Amsterdam.


EU governments and the European Parliament reached an agreement in December on a framework for governing the AMLA, which will also monitor financial institutions under its direct supervision for compliance with sanctions.

Carolin Gardner, head of AML at the Paris-based European Banking Authority, said Tuesday that the AMLA will come into shape “very slowly” and start hiring specialists next year, with a view towards launching by the end of 2025.

But the agency will not begin directly supervising banks and other financial institutions until 2028, said Gardner.

The EU originally planned that the agency would begin direct supervision in 2026.

“We’re really looking at a relatively long [implementation] horizon … because of course the legal framework has only just been adopted,” she told attendees.

Much of the debate surrounding the AMLA has focused on the methods and criteria the agency will use to select an initial group of 40 financial institutions for direct supervision.

But the AMLA’s larger impact on compliance across the EU will be felt indirectly, through its supervision of national regulators, said Jo Swyngedouw, head of AML supervision at the National Bank of Belgium.

“There will be a completely new … convergence of supervisory practices coming from AMLA,” Swyngedouw said. ” I think you should not underestimate the impact for those who are under indirect supervision.”

Contact Koos Couvée at

Topics : Anti-money laundering
Source: European Union , Germany
Document Date: May 7, 2024