The European Parliament opposes removing Gibraltar and Panama from EU money laundering risk list 

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Parliament called on the European Commission to present a new delegated act to take account of the reservations expressed. 

The European Parliament opposed on Tuesday removing Gibraltar, Panama, the United Arab Emirates, Barbados and Uganda from the European list of jurisdictions at high risk of money laundering, as proposed by the European Commission.

The European Parliament rejected Namibia and Kenya by 490 votes to 64, with 56 abstentions, the update of the list put forward by the Community Executive, which also called for Namibia and Kenya to be included in this register, so Namibia and Kenya will not be able to enter into force and the Commission will have to make a new proposal.

The resolution adopted by MEPs raises, among other reservations, that there is important and recent evidence to suggest that the United Arab Emirates, Gibraltar and Panama lacks efforts to address or even facilitate circumvention of sanctions imposed on Russia, including specific financial sanctions against individuals, in response to the war of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

They add that these countries can act as platforms to circumvent sanctions for Union entities, directly or indirectly, thus undermining the Union’s efforts to stop the Russian war machine.

MEPs also point out that Panama is suspected of facilitating the evasion of the Russian oil ceiling imposed by the G-7, as the United States and the United Kingdom warned the Commission in December 2023, although its main reserves are with respect to the United Arab Emirates.

They recall that the United States imposed sanctions on the Gulf country for the sending of technology, equipment and inputs to Russia, which there are credible indications that it plays an important role in the troops per gold systems that provide Russia with US dollars despite the European ban, as well as that launders revenues from conflict areas such as Sudan, among other concerns.

Parliament therefore called on the European Commission to present a new delegated act to take account of the reservations expressed.

After hearing the decision, the Government of Gibraltar expressed its “disappointment” at the position of the Eurocamera and its “concern” about the suggestion that it facilitates the circumvention of sanctions against Russia, which it considered an unfounded and free “unsubstantiated accusation.”

In a statement, the Gibraltarian authorities stressed that action has been taken on their territory to apply sanctions to Russian assets in both the United Kingdom and the EU, whose sanctions regime Gibraltar applies – entirely voluntarily.

They also stressed that the decision of the European Commission was based on a technical evaluation and follows the decision of the International Financial Action Task Force to remove Gibraltar from the list of countries under increased surveillance – while that of the European Parliament is not based on an in-depth evaluation, but has been promulgated by the “hostiles” People’s Party, Vox and Citizens in the EP.

The Community Executive included Gibraltar in December 2022 on this list, which is different from that of tax havens drawn up by the EU Council (Member States) and identifies jurisdictions whose regulations do not guarantee an effective fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

It allows for a consultation process between the European Commission and the jurisdictions analysed whereby they can offer commitments to amend their rules and avoid being included in the repertoire.

Appearing does not entail sanctions, but European financial institutions and other bodies are required to apply greater vigilance with regard to operations carried out by entities established in these territories.

In order to update the list, the Commission takes into account the work of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body specialising in the fight against money-laundering.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Prensa