- EU's Fifth AML Directive: Transposed in 2018, this directive reinforces France's AML/CFT regime through:
- Transparency in beneficial ownership
- Enhanced customer due diligence
- Empowered law enforcement
- Specialized Agencies: Key agencies fighting financial crime in France include:
- Tracfin: Collects and analyzes suspicious transactions.
- National Financial Prosecutor's Office: Investigates AML/CFT offenses
- General Directorate for Internal Security: Counters terrorism financing
- Positive Impact: France froze €1 billion in terrorist financing assets in 2021 and received 100,000+ suspicious transaction reports via Tracfin.
- Challenges: France faces evolving criminals, resource limitations, and the need for global cooperation.
- Public Involvement: Individuals can aid by recognizing and reporting suspicious activities.
France's commitment to fighting financial crime, its robust framework, and global collaboration efforts position it as a leader in this critical endeavor.
AML Compliance Oversight in France
Key authorities overseeing AML compliance in France:
- Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF):
- Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR):
- Traitement du renseignement et action contre les circuits financiers clandestins (TRACFIN):
- France's financial intelligence unit.
- Collects and analyzes suspicious transaction information.
- Collaborates with law enforcement.
Other contributors to AML compliance include:
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Justice
- National Financial Prosecutor's Office
- French Banking Federation
- French Insurance Federation
This coordinated effort underscores France's dedication to robust AML compliance.
AMF's Role in Combating AML/CFT in France
The AMF (Autorité des marchés financiers) is the primary financial markets regulator in France. Its responsibilities encompass safeguarding investors, ensuring proper financial market functioning, and promoting financial education.
Regulatory Framework and Enforcement
Setting Regulatory Framework: The AMF is tasked with establishing the regulatory framework for AML/CFT in France. This includes mandates for customer identification, transaction monitoring, and reporting suspicious activities.
Enforcement: The AMF enforces the AML/CFT regulatory framework, investigating suspected violations and taking actions against non-compliance.
Guidance and Training: The AMF offers guidance and training to financial institutions, helping them comprehend and fulfill their AML/CFT obligations.
Regulatory Enhancements: The AMF has bolstered the AML/CFT regulatory framework, introducing new requirements for customer identification, transaction monitoring, and suspicious activity reporting.
Enforcement Improvement: The AMF has increased enforcement measures, intensifying investigations into suspected AML/CFT cases and imposing stricter actions on non-compliant entities.
Cooperation Promotion: The AMF actively promotes collaboration with other regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies, boosting the effectiveness of AML/CFT efforts both within France and internationally.
The AMF's dedication has been acknowledged by international bodies like the FATF, which sets global AML/CFT standards. In 2018, France earned recognition as a "high-performing country" in the fight against AML/CFT.
Resources for Compliance
The AMF provides valuable resources to assist financial institutions in adhering to AML/CFT regulations, including:
Dedicated Website: Offering comprehensive information about the regulatory framework, compliance guidance, and enforcement updates.
Helpline: A support line for institutions seeking assistance with AML/CFT compliance.
Training Courses: The AMF offers specialized training courses on AML/CFT for financial institutions.
These resources aid financial institutions in upholding AML/CFT regulations, safeguarding the integrity of the French financial system, and thwarting criminals from exploiting it for illicit purposes.
AML/CFT Regulations and Legal Framework in France
AMF Updates and Guidelines:
- The AMF regularly updates its General Regulation and AML-CFT guidelines.
- The last update incorporated changes from the fifth anti-money-laundering directive and certain adjustments in 2021.
- The General Regulation's scope now extends to "Other AIFs," EuVECA and EuSEF managers, and European management company branches managing French UCITS or AIFs.
- Guidelines cover topics like the risk-based approach, due diligence obligations, politically exposed persons, and reporting to TRACFIN.
- Obliged entities must consult the register of beneficial owners, except in low-risk cases.
- Certain customer due diligence measures are eliminated for remote business relationships.
- The use of third-party services for due diligence obligations is addressed.
- Due diligence measures for high-risk countries are reinforced.
- AMF recommends internal procedures to assess the equivalence of AML-CFT obligations in third countries, referring to FATF lists and reports.
AMF's Change of Position:
- Collective investment management companies' due diligence concerning tenants of real estate funds has been altered.
EBA Guideline Implementation (2023):
- AMF adopted EBA guidelines on remote customer onboarding solutions for AML/CFT compliance.
- Guidelines provide steps for credit and financial institutions to meet due diligence obligations.
- These guidelines apply from October 2, 2023, and are extended to entities supervised by the AMF.
Other Regulations to Note:
- 5AMLD: Enhanced due diligence for high-risk customers, quicker reporting of suspicious activity, and other requirements.
- 6AMLD: Broader scope, enhanced due diligence, increased transparency, and improved cooperation.
- FAML Regulation: Collecting more customer data, faster reporting of suspicious activity, and other conditions.
- VASPs Guidelines: Risk-based approach, customer due diligence, and reporting of suspicious activity.
- FATF Evaluation of France (2022): Highlights key findings on France's AML compliance efforts, with strengths and areas for improvement.
FATF Evaluation of France (2022): Notable Insights
- Risks and Coordination: France understands ML and TF risks well, though some supervisory areas require strengthening. The AML/CFT advisory board ensures effective national coordination.
- Effective Intelligence: Competent authorities adeptly employ financial intelligence, with TRACFIN's strong presence aiding investigations and guidance for regulated entities.
- Prosecution Emphasis: High-end ML cases are prioritized, though stand-alone ML convictions are below expectations due to specialized investigator shortages for complex cases.
- Confiscation Focus: France's emphasis on confiscation since 2010 aligns with ML/TF risks and policies.
- Counterterrorism Action: Vigilant against terrorism financing, systematic inclusion of TF aspect in terrorism investigations.
- Sanctions and Role: Active role in suggesting designations for EU and UN lists. Effective targeted financial sanctions (TFS) legislative package for TF and PF.
- NPOs and Vulnerabilities: Holistic approach to identifying TF-vulnerable NPOs, need for customized measures across the sector.
- Awareness in FIs and VASPs: FIs and VASPs grasp ML/TF risks well. DNFBPs, like real estate agents, need better compliance.
- Supervisory Progress: Improved FI supervision, DNFBPs' risk-based AML/CFT supervision needs strengthening.
- Transparency Steps: Transparent via accessible BO registers, BO information verification reinforcement is necessary.
- Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA): Strong framework for criminal matters, including informal cooperation.
- The report commends efforts and suggests areas for enhancement: improving ML convictions, robust AML/CFT supervision, and tailored NPO measures.
France recognizes the global and national threats of financial crimes, money laundering, and terrorist financing. Steps taken, including transposing the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and adopting EBA guidelines, highlight France's commitment to fortifying its AML/CFT framework.
Efforts by authorities like AMF, ACPR, and TRACFIN have yielded positive AML/CFT outcomes. Challenges persist, including evolving criminal strategies, limited resources, and the need for international collaboration.
France's financial prominence increases its vulnerability to money laundering. However, ongoing AML/CFT enhancements showcase its determination to safeguard its financial system.
Businesses in France must stay current with AML regulations, establish robust compliance programs, and collaborate with regulators. Amid this dynamic landscape, vigilance and cooperation among financial institutions, regulators, and the public remain crucial to thwarting threats and preserving the financial system's integrity.