TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Finance Annely Akkermann said at a symposium held by the Baltic chapter of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) in Tallinn that Estonia has done its best to enforce the sanctions against the aggressor state as strictly as possible.
"With regard to priorities in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, the efficiency of sanctions and their targeted and uniform enforcement is crucial. It helps combat sanctions evasion," Akkermann was quoted by spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Finance as saying.
The minister said that the goal is to stop Russia's aggression and the West has chosen sanctions as a way to deter the Kremlin. Russia's continuing aggression means further tightening of economic sanctions.
"By saying that, we understand that because of these sanctions, our societies are also bearing the costs of the war. Hopefully, our actions will one day stop the number of deaths from growing and force Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine," Akkermann said. "Thus, the situation is critical and our objective is clear, but the task is a difficult one."
The finance minister said that more effort needs to be made to strengthen measures against sanctions evasion and all potential gaps need to be plugged.
"We have all had to make an effort, both the public sector as well as the individual persons responsible. Over 1,500 cases of sanctions evasion have been discovered," she said.
Akkermann noted that the role of cryptocurrencies has increased in sanctions evasion. Virtual currencies are first and foremost used to hide the origin of assets and the other party to transactions. Estonia has not forbidden the ownership of virtual assets.
"No virtual asset service is forbidden, but those who want to provide such services in Estonia must follow the rules against money laundering and terrorist financing and the valid law," she said.
Estonia recently underwent an audit by the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), which assessed Estonia's capability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing as positive.
"Estonia prioritizes the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and the work continues," the minister said.
Estonia is known as an innovative state and a digital leader as well an excellent location for business, according to Akkermann.
"We welcome innovation; however, we do not tolerate financial crime and stopping money laundering is an important priority to ensure our business environment be transparent and beneficial for everyone," she noted.