ECONOMY

Greece found inert over ‘dirty money’

The European Commission is taking Greece to the European Court of Justice for failing to apply measures against money laundering in line with a Community directive. «Greece has neither given the Commission any progress report on transposition nor submitted a timetable for the adoption of the necessary measures,» it said in a statement. The directive, which should have been incorporated into national legislation and enacted by July 15, 2003, was first proposed as part of measures designed to stem further terrorist attacks after 9/11, and was later expanded to include essentially all forms of crime but especially money laundering. Its basic instrument is the provision for the legal obligation of a broad range of professional groups to report on clients whom they may suspect of wrongdoing. This range, naturally, includes all forms of credit institutions, accountants and auditors, lawyers, notary publics and real estate brokers, and even jewelers, precious metals and art dealers and auctioneers. But the obligation to report on suspect clients applies in cases of cash payments exceeding 15,000 euros. «So long as there is even one member state which has not transposed the directive, there will be a chink in the European Union’s defense against the use of the financial system for money laundering, especially by those involved in terrorism and financial crime,» said the Commission. European lawyers’ associations have expressed strong opposition to the directive, arguing that it violates the European Convention on Human Rights and European Court legislation. Insurance The Commission is also referring Greece to the court for failing to introduce adequate measures designed to bolster competition in the insurance industry through facilitating the activity of firms throughout the EU. The court is being asked to consider Greece’s failure to apply a directive on the solvency margin of insurance firms which provides for the harmonization of national legislations. It makes it impossible for firms to be effectively overseen and be mutually recognized in all member states. The Commission noted that the directive should have been incorporated into national legislation by September 20, 2003. In addition, insurers wishing to become active in the motor vehicle civil liability sector face a further obstacle: the obligation to register with the Greek Association of Insurance Companies. «The Commission considers that as a result of this requirement, there may be a risk of preventing or discouraging insurance companies from other member states from entering the Greek market,» the statement said.