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What do newly approved anti-money laundering rules cover?

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What do newly approved anti-money laundering rules cover?

EU lawmakers voted in a landslide in favour of new curbs on crypto, football clubs and cash transactions.

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EU lawmakers today voted 482 to 47 to set up a long-promised EU anti-money laundering agency, as part of a package that would also see large cash payments banned across Europe.

The move – taken by MEPs at their last voting session before June elections – means new rules apply for football deals and crypto transactions, as the bloc seeks to repair its reputation after a series of financial-sector scandals.

“Dirty money finances terrible crimes,” EU financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness said, adding that there was an “absolute imperative to improve significantly on the current situation”.

Those views seemed largely shared across the political divide – including by Damien Carême (France/Greens), one of the MEPs who led negotiations.

Terrorists and fraudsters “exploit the loopholes in European legislation”, Carême told lawmakers. “We have to act decisively to ensure a robust system.”

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What do new EU money-laundering rules do?

New rules include a limit on professional traders accepting or paying cash for any transaction over €10,000 – given that big wads of untraceable banknotes can send alarm bells over financial crime.

Some lawmakers claim that’s an attack on financial freedom.

“Keep your hands off our cash and our digital currencies,” Patrick Breyer of the German Pirate Party told lawmakers. “We Pirates say no to this creeping financial disenfranchisement.”

Yet one of the most touchy subjects of the complex package has been geographical: the question of where to house a new EU anti-money laundering agency.

After a first-of-a-kind 12-hour public hearing, German financial centre Frankfurt won out, from a slate of candidates that also comprised Paris, Rome, Madrid, Vienna, Riga, Vilnius, Brussels and Dublin.

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Its 400-odd staff will directly supervise dirty-money controls at 40 of the bloc’s biggest financial institutions.

Expanded scope of new anti-money laundering laws

EU money laundering laws already apply to big institutions like banks, who are required to verify who their customers are, and report suspicious transactions to the authorities.

Those rules will also apply to high-risk sectors like traders in artwork, jewellery and luxury yachts. They’ll be extended to cover innovative services like cryptocurrency providers—as lawmakers are concerned bitcoin and other, even more anonymous assets can be used for illicit payments.

At MEPs’ insistence, the measures apply to major football clubs and agents – given the large amounts of sometimes dubious money that circulates between them.

More consistent rules

For the first time ever, the EU’s rules are set out in a regulation that will apply more or less consistently across the bloc.

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That means less discretion for each country to tweak rules for the national context – creating discrepancies that make it harder for legitimate businesses to operate across borders, and easier for criminals and terrorists to exploit the system.

A separate money laundering directive, also agreed today, resolves issues over how journalists and activists can trace the financial structures used to hide wealth.

Arrangements were thrown into disarray by a shock 2022 EU court judgment that restricted access to company ownership registers on privacy grounds.

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Why does the EU need new anti-money laundering rules?

Officials hope the new rulebook will help improve the EU’s reputation for dirty money, closing the chapter on a series of scandals.

Two EU members – Croatia and Bulgaria – currently sit on a “grey list” of suspect money laundering jurisdictions compiled by international standard-setter the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and Malta was only recently taken off it.

The region also faced a series of financial-sector scandals involving institutions such as Danske Bank, Latvia’s ABLV, and Malta’s Pilatus bank.

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Danske was fined billions of euros by US and Danish regulators in 2022, after admitting that around €200bn was laundered through its Estonian arm between 2007 and 2015.

EU talks were given extra salience by the need to enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for its war in Ukraine – given fears that ultra-wealthy oligarchs can use shady financial structures to evade curbs.

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When will new EU money laundering rules take effect?

New anti-money laundering controls have been a long time coming, and it’s still not over.

Valdis Dombrovskis berated uneven enforcement and promised to examine a new EU agency in his hearing to become EU financial services commissioner as far back as October 2019.

After several last-minute wrangles, lawmakers and governments announced a tentative deal on the bulk of the law in January 2024.

Once nodded through by national ministers, much of the new regulation kicks in after three years, but there is some flexibility.

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Rules for the football sector will take five years to apply, and the new EU agency could start work later this year – though the law setting it up takes effect formally in July 2025.

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Clashes erupt between university students and riot police outside Egyptian embassy in Beirut

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Clashes erupt between university students and riot police outside Egyptian embassy in Beirut

Clashes erupted on Monday between pro-Palestinian university students and riot police outside the Egyptian embassy in Beirut. Dozens of university students gathered outside the embassy, holding Palestinian flags and calling on the Egyptian government to open the Rafah border crossing and allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip.

Clashes erupted on Monday between pro-Palestinian university students and riot police outside the Egyptian embassy in Beirut. Dozens of university students gathered outside the embassy, holding Palestinian flags and calling on the Egyptian government to open the Rafah border crossing and allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip.


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Israeli excavators discover 2,300-year-old gold ring at City of David site

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Israeli excavators discover 2,300-year-old gold ring at City of David site

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Israeli researchers digging in Jerusalem’s City of David archeological site have uncovered an “exceedingly well-preserved” 2,300-year-old gold ring that is believed to have belonged to a boy or girl that lived in the area during the Hellenistic period. 

The piece of jewelry, which is “made of gold and set with a red precious stone, apparently a garnet,” has “accumulated no rust nor suffered other weathering of time,” the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday. 

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“I was sifting earth through the screen and suddenly saw something glitter,” Tehiya Gangate, a City of David excavation team member, said in a statement. “I immediately yelled, ‘I found a ring, I found a ring!’ Within seconds everyone gathered around me, and there was great excitement.”

“This is an emotionally moving find, not the kind you find every day,” she added. “In truth I always wanted to find gold jewelry, and I am very happy this dream came true – literally a week before I went on maternity leave.”   

EXPEDITION TO ‘HOLY GRAIL’ SHIPWRECK FULL OF GOLD, EMERALDS BEGINS IN CARIBBEAN SEA 

The Israel Antiquities Authority says because of the ring’s small diameter, “researchers estimate that it belonged to a boy or girl who lived in Jerusalem during the Hellenistic period.” (Israel Antiquities Authority)

The Israel Antiquities Authority says the ring was “recently found in the joint Israel Antiquities Authority-Tel Aviv University excavation in the City of David, part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park, with the support of the Elad Foundation.” 

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It will be put on display to the public in early June during Jerusalem Day. 

“The ring is very small. It would fit a woman’s pinky, or a young girl or boy’s finger,” the IAA cited Dr. Yiftah Shalev and Riki Zalut Har-Tov, Israel Antiquities Authority Excavation Directors, as saying. 

Tel Aviv University Professor Yuval Gadot and excavator Efrat Bocher added that, “The recently found gold ring joins other ornaments of the early Hellenistic period found in the City of David excavations, including the horned-animal earring and the decorated gold bead.”   

WOMAN OUT FOR A WALK STUMBLES UPON ONCE IN A DECADE DISCOVERY 

Gold ring found at City of David

A researcher poses with the ring after it was found in Jerusalem’s City of David. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

“Whereas in the past we found only a few structures and finds from this era, and thus most scholars assumed Jerusalem was then a small town, limited to the top of the southeastern slope (“City of David”) and with relatively very few resources, these new finds tell a different story: The aggregate of revealed structures now constitute an entire neighborhood,” they said. 

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“They attest to both domestic and public buildings, and that the city extended from the hilltop westward. The character of the buildings – and now of course, the gold finds and other discoveries, display the city’s healthy economy and even its elite status. It certainly seems that the city’s residents were open to the widespread Hellenistic style and influences prevalent also in the eastern Mediterranean Basin,” the researchers added. 

Gold ring discovered in Jerusalem

Those involved with the excavation say the ring helps “paint a new picture of the nature and stature of Jerusalem’s inhabitants in the Early Hellenistic Period.” (Israel Antiquities Authority)

 

The IAA says “Gold jewelry was well-known in the Hellenistic world, from Alexander the Great’s reign onward” as “his conquests helped spread and transport luxury goods and products.” 

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The Take: Why all eyes are on Rafah

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The Take: Why all eyes are on Rafah

Podcast,

The aftermath of a deadly Israeli attack on a tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

Days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its operation in Rafah, Israel hit a tent camp there, killing more than 45 displaced people. As the world condemns the attack, Israel’s war on Gaza continues.

In this episode: 

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  • Akram Al Satarri, freelance journalist
  • Imran Khan, (@ajimran) Al Jazeera senior correspondent

Episode credits:

This episode was produced by David Enders and Khaled Sultan, with Manahil Naveed, Catherine Nouhan and our host Malika Bilal.

It was edited by Amy Walters.

Our sound designer is Alex Roldan. Our lead of audience development and engagement is Aya Elmileik and Adam Abou-Gad is our engagement producer.

Alexandra Locke is The Take’s executive producer. Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera’s head of audio.

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