Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) publishes Annual Report 2014 and Annual Performance Statement Financial Regulation 2014-2015
In its report, the CBI discusses the improvements that the Irish economy and banking sector were displaying throughout 2014 and continue to display. The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) came into force in November 2014, transferring the supervisory responsibility for the main Irish banks to the European Central Bank and the national competent authorities of participating EU countries. In preparation for this change, the CBI extensively reorganised its resources for the supervision of banks during 2014. The annual performance statement (the statement) details how the CBI focused on the supervision of mortgage arrears and distressed SME loans on banks’ balance sheets and reports progress being made on the management of these issues during the year. The statement also refers to the improvements to the culture and compliance of investment firms and fund service providers as a result of the CBI's supervision. As a result of the Administrative Sanctions Procedure, fines totalling €5.42m were levied throughout 2014. The CBI also reviewed its anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the finance of terrorism (CFT) supervisory strategy in 2014 and plans to conduct 32 AML inspections during 2015 as well as continuing to conduct AML/CFT risk evaluations. The statement also outlines the CBI's Performance Plan for 2015. The CBI is reporting a financial profit of €2.1 billion for 2014, with €1.7 billion being paid to the Exchequer after retained earnings. The full report and annual performance statement are available on www.centralbank.ie.
Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) publishes Report on Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and Financial Sanctions Compliance in the Irish Credit Union Sector
The report identified a number of issues that arose as a result of on-site inspections and Risk Evaluation Questionnaires filled in by Credit Unions. Among the many issues raised were failures to implement the requirements of the Criminal Justice Act 2010 in a timely manner, lack of oversight of AML/CFT issues at board level, non-adherence to AML/CFT policies, failure to conduct adequate money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment of the business and failure to define Politically Exposed Persons within policies. The CBI found that there were "widespread and common deficiencies" in some of the practices of credit unions. The CBI stated that it expects all credit unions to consider the report carefully and to be aware that they will be required to confirm annually that they have complied with the issues raised in the report. The CBI emphasised the importance of an AML/CFT framework being "established and embedded" into the business of credit unions.
Central Bank enters into Settlement Agreement with Western Union Payment Services Ireland Limited
The Central Bank of Ireland (Central Bank) has entered into a settlement agreement as part of its Administrative Sanctions Procedure with Western Union Payment Services Ireland Limited (Western Union). Western Union was fined €1.75m for breaches of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 (CJA 2010) as it failed to demonstrate that it had robust policies and procedures in place to counteract money laundering and terrorist financing and had outsourced certain "key" anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing compliance functions to a group entity based in Lithuania. According to a statement released by the Central Bank's Director of Enforcement, such a high fine was imposed "in light of the inherent risks in the sector in which this firm operates and by reference to the scale and geographic size of the firm’s business and its reliance on third party agents and outsourced service providers."
EU & INTERNATIONAL
European Banking Authority (EBA) publishes its final Guidelines on triggers for the use of early intervention measures
The guidelines aim to promote convergence of supervisory practices with regard to the application of early intervention measures. The guidelines clarify the conditions for early intervention as provided for in the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and provide Competent Authorities with a set of triggers to prompt the application of early intervention measures.
European Commission (EC) adopts its "Better Regulation Agenda"
The agenda applies across all policy areas in the EU and its purpose is to promote transparency across the decision making processes in the EU. The quality of law making will be improved through better impact assessments of draft legislation and amendments and existing EU laws will be under constant review. In a statement accompanying the release of the announcement, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "this Commission is determined to change both what the Union does and how it does it. Better regulation is therefore one of our top priorities. We are listening to the concerns of citizens and businesses – especially SMEs - who worry that Brussels and its institutions don't always deliver rules they can understand or apply. We want to restore their confidence in the EU's ability to deliver high quality legislation."
European Parliament (EP) endorses tougher rules on money-laundering
The new rules to be implemented by the fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive (AMLD4) will now include an obligation on EU member states to keep central registers of information on the ultimate "beneficial" owners of corporate and other legal entities, as well as trusts. Authorities and their financial units will have unrestricted access to the registers, "obliged entities" (e.g. banks conducting customer due diligence) will have access as will the public, subject to certain restrictions like online registration and possibly a fee. Aside from authorities and their financial units who have unrestricted access, any other person or entity who wants to access the register will need to demonstrate that they have a "legitimate interest" in suspected money laundering or terrorist financing offences, as well as related offences like corruption and fraud that could be linked to money laundering or terrorist financing. This new rule was not envisaged by the European Commission when the AMLD4 was proposed but was included by MEPs during negotiations.
MEPs debate new rules to ensure transparency of all benchmarks used in the EU
The new legislation under debate will require critical or systemically important benchmarks that track a large volume of trade to comply with principles set out by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) with regard to how they are produced and calculated. Compliance will be overseen by the European Securities and Markets Authority together with national supervisors.