VILNIUS – Lithuania plans to establish an anti-money laundering competence center as the Nordic and Baltic region has been hit by several money laundering scandals in recent years.
The new center's operation would be funded from contributions of the central Bank of Lithuania and commercial banks.
The Finance Ministry would represent the state in such an institution (its contribution would be symbolic and amount to one euro), and its founders would include the Bank of Lithuania, SEB, Swedbank, Luminor Bank and Siauliu Bankas. The Financial Crime Investigation Service would also be involved in the new center's activity.
"Potential money launderers are taking increasingly smarter steps and use new ways to legalize illegally obtained funds, and as the money laundering and terrorism funding environment is ever-changing, representatives of the private sector find it increasingly harder to identify potentially illegal activities and their signs," a draft government resolution reads.
"By not taking action, Lithuania finds itself in a disadvantaged situation in terms of risk managements, and the country's reputation negatively affects investors' behavior," the document reads.
Lithuania's 2018 assessment by the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) showed the country lacks financial and human resources, training and consultations for financial market participants, the understanding of non-financial activities and employees about such risks is poor, the quality of reports on suspicious transactions is still not satisfactory, and national risk assessment is not sufficiently comprehensive.
A total of nine institutions are now responsible for preventing the risk of money laundering and terrorism funding. They include the Bank of Lithuania, the Cultural Heritage Department, the Gaming Control Authority, the Lithuanian Bar Association, the Chambers of Notaries, Auditors and Bailiffs, the Lithuanian Assay Office and the Financial Crime Investigation Service. They are allocated different human and financial resources and have very different competence and knowledge levels.