On 3 March 2021, the European Banking Authority (EBA) published its biennial opinion on risks of money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) affecting the EU’s financial sector.

The opinion has been issued in accordance with Article 6(5) of the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which requires the EBA to issue an opinion on the risks of ML and TF affecting the EU’s financial sector every two years. The opinion and its associated report will inform the European Commission’s Supranational Risk Assessment and risk assessments carried out by Member State competent authorities (NCAs).

Some of the risks identified in the opinion, such as those associated with virtual currencies and innovative financial services, have already been identified in previous opinions and continue to be relevant. Others are included in the opinion for the first time, such as differences in the treatment by NCAs of financial institutions’ involvement in facilitating or handling tax-related crimes (‘cum-ex/cum-cum’).

In terms of Brexit the opinion notes that the risk perception of most NCAs has not changed significantly. Some NCAs, especially those that have seen firms relocating in their jurisdictions, have identified increased and emerging risks in the following sectors: investment firms, credit institutions, payment institutions and e-money institutions. NCAs have highlighted concerns in relation to UK firms establishing themselves in the EU but continuing to operate mainly from the UK, thus making meaningful AML/CFT supervision more difficult.

As a complement to the opinion, the EBA has developed an interactive tool, which gives European citizens, NCAs and credit and financial institutions access in a user friendly manner to all ML/TF risks covered in the opinion.