Documents considered by the House of Commons EU Scrutiny Committee on 27th June include a proposed Directive laying down rules facilitating the use of financial and other information for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of certain criminal offences and repealing Council Decision 2000/642/JHA. The report on the Committee’s considerations says that the EU Commission considers that existing mechanisms for accessing and exchanging financial information within the EU are too slow, given the pace at which funds can be moved across borders and the new Directive is intended to improve access to financial information for law enforcement purposes. It would –
- give designated national law enforcement authorities and Asset Recovery Offices direct access to bank account information held in their Member State’s central bank account registries (or electronic data retrieval systems) where necessary to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute a serious criminal offence;
- strengthen the exchange of financial information and analysis between their own designated national law enforcement authorities and FIU as well as between FIU in different Member States;
- introduce a 3-day time limit for the exchange of information between FIU in different Member States (24 hours in “exceptional and urgent cases”); and
- give Europol indirect access to bank account and other financial information or analysis via each Member State’s National Europol Unit.
The EU Commission is said to envisage that the proposed Directive would have to be implemented in domestic law at the same time as the provisions of the recently-agreed 5th AML Directive which requires Member States to establish central bank registries or electronic data retrieval systems so that account holders can be readily identified. This is likely to be in early 2020, so would be during the post-Brexit withdrawal transition period. As the proposed Directive is a criminal law measure it will only apply to the UK if the Government decides to opt in.
The Directive remains under scrutiny.