Status update to Plan van Aanpak Witwassen

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Update Plan van Aanpak Witwassen

What changes does this bring to the AML system?

In May 2023, the Minister of Finance provided a status update on the “Plan van Aanpak Witwassen” and the related responsive actions to multiple evaluations of the Dutch Anti-Money Laundering framework last year (also on behalf of the Minister of Justice). In what way are these actions transforming the current Dutch AML system? Are they in line with the three fundamental changes as articulated in our previous NextGenAML blogpost?

To read more about the three fundamental changes in our previous NextGenAML blogpost click here.

In the accompanying letter to this status update, the Minister of Finance indicates that the basics of the Dutch AML system are in control. However, the letter also states that the increased AML efforts have unintended consequences that require attention. To grow towards a more effective approach, a more focused risk-based approach is required. Such approach can be achieved by reallocating capacity and focus from lower ML/TF risk to jointly prioritized high ML/TF risk areas. This point of view is now widely shared in the Dutch society: among AML professionals, regulators, politicians, privacy activists and the wider public. As such, the momentum for change of the AML system has never been bigger.

The Plan van Aanpak sets out an extensive list of intended and ongoing actions (in Dutch: ‘beleidsagenda’) to sharpen the AML system. The overview below provides highlights, see the full list here.

A – Strict where required (in Dutch: ‘Streng waar nodig’)

  • Preparations to the implementation of the European regulations: the proposal for ‘Markets in Crypto Assets’ (MiCA), and the Transfer of Funds Regulation. 
  • Revision of Sanctions policies including on the duty of reporting (in Dutch: ‘meldplicht’) and the supervision of non-financial institutions. 
  • Intended actions to enhance the quality, completeness and accessibility of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) register and on the harmonization of the understanding of ‘UBO’ and related obligations on EU level.
  • Start of Nationale Samenwerking tegen Ondermijnende Criminaliteit (NSOC) labs in November 2022, in which multidisciplinary teams work on complex problems related to organized and undermining crime. 
  • Discussions on the intended amendment of the Wet ter voorkoming van witwassen en financieren van terrorisme (Wwft) will be extended and continued at a European level. To this last end, The Netherlands have issued a ‘non-paper’ together with authorities in Denmark and Germany, to provide their point of view on the coverage of public-public data sharing in the upcoming EU Anti Money Laundering Regulation (AMLR).

B – Room where possible (in Dutch: ‘Ruimte waar mogelijk’)

  • Discussions with (representatives of) smaller gatekeepers on how Wwft requirements can be clarified and be met in a suitable way. 
  • Sectoral approach to risk of exclusion from the financial system, see also full overview
  • Information campaigns on AML policies for the wider public by both the government and the Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken
  • The possibilities for a ‘base bank account’ (like already available in Belgium) to guarantee access to the financial system for enterprises are being explored.

C – Measure to know (in Dutch: ‘Meten om te weten’)

  • A first statistical overview on the Dutch AML overview over the year 2021. Although the overview is not harmonized across actors, nor does it yet provide comprehensive targets and outcomes, it can be seen as a first step towards more transparency on effectiveness, and as such towards a possible ‘National Financial Economic Crime dashboard’.
  • The update to the National Risk Assessment (NRA, anticipated Q1 2024) will include not only risks, but also policies and mitigating measures. Also this can be seen as a first step that eventually may result into enhanced, action oriented and (jointly) prioritized risk information sharing across the AML-chain.
  • There are multiple ongoing initiatives to enhance feedback from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), covering a more effective and targeted handover of suspicious activity reports (SARs) to law enforcement, improving the effective use of SARs by law enforcement, promoting a structural FIU feedback loop and enhancing the reporting chain.

Now what?

Both scope and depth of the Plan van Aanpak Witwassen are impressive: a lot of action is being undertaken to make AML efforts more effective. In addition, the level of transparency and oversight is also unprecedented. The first results, for example in form of the NVB Risk Based Industry Baselines, are there. At the same time, the tangible outcomes on most of these actions are still ahead of us.

Moreover, it can be questioned if the scope of the Plan is bold enough. As articulated in our previous NextGenAML blogpost, we believe that fundamental change will be required on top of optimization of the current AML system. Part of this fundamental change can be recognized in the Plan, other aspects (like coordination and national strategy) can be perceived as only partially or preliminary covered at best. It is recognized that fundamental change and effective implementation of the Plan takes time and wide parallel efforts by the many parties involved. However, we do encourage the Minister and all AML professionals to remain ambitious, strive for this fundamental change, and take execution of all intended change seriously.

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