Banks that have suffered money laundering scandals are to be scrutinised as part of a European Commission attempt to prevent further problems. But Nicola Sharp of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli believes the banks themselves need to be examining their conduct.

The European Commission is reviewing past money laundering cases involving banks in the European Union (EU) to assess what went wrong and determine whether existing rules need to be changed.

The review is part of an attempt to strengthen the EU's efforts to tackle money laundering following a number of scandals involving banks in more than half a dozen countries. It involves the European Commission assessing cases between 2012 and 2018 and then producing a report before the end of summer that will pinpoint how the banks in each case failed to prevent laundering.

The EU is well within its rights to examine banking practices before deciding whether any rule changes are needed – and its efforts to tackle money laundering indicate both the size of the problem and the doubts about existing regulation.

According to EU officials, missions to EU states are already underway, although it has not been stated whether the reviews into the money laundering scandals will focus on the banks involved or those responsible for national supervision of them.

There will be many who will argue that such efforts cannot come soon enough, bearing in mind the series of money laundering problems that have come to light in recent years. It is certainly appropriate for the EU to be looking at what went wrong and coming up with ideas about how the problems can be put right.

But what should not be forgotten here is that if any reforms that may come out of this exercise are to be effective the banks themselves need to be looking closely at their internal workings. The EU can look at the problem on a broad scale and do what it can to usher in improvements. But ultimately the banks need to be looking at their own procedures and conduct in order to prevent any further money laundering headlines.

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