France makes case for Paris to host new EU dirty money watchdog

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PARIS, Nov 17 (Reuters) – French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire made the case on Friday for Paris to host the European Union’s Authority for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLA), saying the French capital already benefited from being a centre for fighting dirty money.

EU countries agreed in 2021 to set up a dedicated agency to coordinate anti-money laundering efforts across the bloc after enforcement among national authorities was found to be inconsistent and wanting.

“Our candidacy is a sign of our will to go farther in the fight against terrorism financing,” Le Maire told EU ambassadors.

Bolstering its case, Paris is already host of sister institutions, the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority.

The French capital is also home of the Financial Action Task Force, a global anti-money laundering body housed at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“In terms of anti-money laundering and combating terror financing, the best European ecosystem is in Paris. It’s a fact, and this ecosystem will ensure the agency’s success,” Le Maire said.

In addition to the international institutions it already hosts, Paris has become the biggest banking sector in the European Union in terms of assets since Britain left the bloc, according to French officials.

Le Maire said that three possible sites had already been located and that France was prepared to help set the agency up with a 15 million euro ($16.30 million) contribution.

Competition is likely to be tough as Le Maire’s German counterpart Christian Lindner made Frankfurt’s case for hosting the agency earlier this week, playing up its credentials as a banking centre and home of the European Central Bank.

Spain, Lithuania and Ireland have also put in bids to host the agency.

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