Europe

Council of Europe anti-corruption Group publishes its annual report 

On 13 June 2013, the Council of Europe anti-corruption group ("GRECO") published its annual report, in which the Group calls on European states to strengthen the legal and institutional capacity of their parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors in order to prevent and address corruption in their own ranks.

GRECO considers that the three professional groups need to better internalise the prevention of corruption as part of their everyday functions and be proactive in developing precise and transparent codes of conduct reinforced by credible mechanisms of supervision and sanction.

In the same report, the Group also presents for the first time statistics for 45 of its 49 members on their overall levels of compliance with its recommendations on conflicts of interest, declarations of assets and interests, gifts, lobbying, transparency of political processes, and involvement in other professional activities with regard to Members of Parliament, judges and prosecutors. The statistics show that, three years after they were first evaluated, more than three-quarters of the Member States have fully complied with GRECO´s recommendations.  

EU Parliament adopts resolution on organised crime, corruption, money laundering and self-laundering

The European parliament has published the text of a non-legislative resolution on organised crime, corruption and money laundering adopted on 11 June 2013. The resolution sets out a series of recommended actions and initiatives. The Parliament's special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM) adopted an interim report on organised crime, money laundering and corruption in May 2013 and is scheduled to adopt its final report in September 2013 which the European Parliament will consider in October 2013.

European Parliament agrees legislation to curb counterfeit goods

The European Parliament has agreed a new Regulation to strengthen and clarify the procedures used for the enforcement of intellectual property right within the EU. This will play a crucial role in stopping counterfeit goods entering the internal market and help counter the rise in postal traffic of pirated goods from the Internet.

ECB Opinion on MLD IV and new wire transfer regulation

The European Council has published an Opinion by the European Central Bank (ECB) on the proposed fourth Money Laundering Directive (MLD IV) and proposed Regulation revising the Wire Transfer Regulation. The ECB welcomes the European Commission's proposals and considers that they correctly address weaknesses identified in the current EU regime. The ECB notes that Member States may decide to take stricter measures than those outlined in MLD IV, and stresses the importance of the exemption for certain credit and financial institutions as well as the use of established defined terms in the Directive to improve consistency and understanding.

EDPS opinion on MLD IV and new Wire Transfer Regulation

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published an Opinion on the European Commission's proposed Fourth Money Laundering Directive (MLD IV) and the proposed Regulation amending the Wire Transfer Regulation. The EDPS recognises the importance of anti-money laundering policies, but argues that the legitimate aim of achieving transparency of payment sources must be balanced with ensuring compliance with data protections requirements. The EDPS makes several recommendations as to how data protection requirements may be enhanced within the proposals.

International

G8 and UK action plans on transparency of company ownership

The G8 has published a set of agreed principles on preventing the misuse of companies and legal arrangements for the furtherance of illicit conduct.  The G8 members have committed to pursuing national action plans based on these principles, and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published an action plan for the UK alongside a Government press release. The UK action plan includes a commitment to introduce new rules requiring companies to obtain and submit to a central register accurate and current details of their beneficial ownership and control. The register will be maintained by Companies House and be available to law enforcement agencies and tax authorities. BIS will consult later in the summer on the design of the new rules, including whether the register should be publicly available.

Creation of International Foreign Bribery Task Force

The City of London Police and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have published press releases announcing the creation of an International Foreign Bribery Taskforce (IFBT) as part of a new trans-border agreement to combat foreign bribery. The new taskforce will include experts from the AFP, FBI, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the City of London Police. The IFBT was officially established in May 2013 when the participating agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The taskforce will meet annually and facilitate collaboration to strengthen investigations into foreign bribery crimes, and support the OECD and UN anti-bribery conventions.