NEWS

EC report: Greece slack in curbing money launderers

BRUSSELS – Gaps in the fight against money laundering remain in several European countries nearly three years after they agreed to joint action to fight crime and terrorism, the European Union’s head office warned yesterday. The 25 current and soon-to-be EU leaders last month listed the money-laundering decision as one of half a dozen measures with «a decisive role to play in combating terrorist activities» in Europe. However, the European Commission said in an interim report that «a number of member states still have a long way to go» to fully implement the June 26, 2001, framework. «There are so many different problems country by country,» said Commission spokesman Pietro Petrucci. But he denied any «major concern» that the gaps could undermine counterterrorism efforts. Among deficiencies cited by the Commission in the 15 current EU states: – Greece, Luxembourg and probably Sweden will have to change laws limiting which offenses can be subject to confiscation measures; – Austria, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal «do not seem to meet the required terms» for criminalizing money laundering with other serious offenses; – Austria, Greece, Portugal and Italy have not shown they have established a minimum four-year prison term for money laundering; – Austria, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg cannot act on foreign requests for property to be confiscated, although the latter two have prepared legislation. The Commission said it had not received enough information to determine whether any country was processing foreign requests related to asset identification, tracing, freezing, seizing and confiscation with «the same priority» as domestic proceedings. It also said it had «no evidence» to conclude that Britain was applying the measures to Gibraltar, as required. Petrucci said the Commission would release a final report in September, after which it would be up to EU leaders to decide «what kind of pressure» to apply to any remaining laggards.