G. Skaistė: The establishment of AMLA in Vilnius would send a significant signal in the current geopolitical reality and would be a strong sign of trust in Lithuania
After the decision to set up a new Anti-Money Laundering Agency (AMLA) at the European Union (EU) level, Lithuania participates in the selection process and welcomes the settlement of this important financial sector institution in Vilnius. Minister of Finance Gintarė Skaistė stressed that Lithuania’s biggest advantage was a large pool of competent professionals, a dynamic financial sector ecosystem and a high quality of life in Vilnius.
“At the Government level, we have set our ambition to attract AMLA to Lithuania. We were among the first to take part in the selection process, and we consistently muster support for our candidacy. Having assessed Lithuania’s strengths – accumulated competencies in the public sector, a large community of compliance experts, extensive experience in preventing money laundering and terrorism financing, convenient location of Vilnius, cultural diversity and good reputation of the country in managing risks in both traditional financial sector and the Fintech segment – we are convinced that Vilnius would be the best home for the newly established EU Anti-Money Laundering Agency – stressed Minister G. Skaistė. – The establishment of AMLA in Vilnius would send a significant signal in the current geopolitical reality and would be a strong sign of trust in Lithuania, symbolising even deeper integration into the most important structures of the EU”.
Vilnius is an exceptional location for AML Agency
One of the main advantages of Vilnius, as AMLA home, is successful experience in managing money laundering risks and a high culture of implementation of prevention, which is characterised by exceptional cooperation between the public and private sectors. The risk management system is constantly being improved, international recommendations are implemented, and the best solutions are proactively sought. One of the best examples is the adoption of national regulation on crypto-assets last year to increase transparency and prevention in the sector.
Lithuania is one of the leading Fintech countries, which established itself as an international Fintech hub. More than 250 financial technology companies are operating in Lithuania, bringing together more than 7 thousand professionals, and their activities range from cross-border payments and remittances, digital banking, online investments to peer-to-peer borrowing, crowdfunding instrument management, etc. The Ministry of Finance is currently finalising the National Development Plan for the Fintech Sector 2023-2028, which will help ensure that Lithuania’s leadership in this sector is sustainable and continuous, promoting the quality development of Fintech by consolidating the position of the Centre of Excellence in Europe.
The rapid expansion of the FinTech sector also strengthens the market and public sector ecosystem, which is characterised by the competences of regulators and supervisory institutions. Lithuania has good regulatory practice
in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and other risks. In addition, the Centre of Excellence for Anti-Money Laundering (CEAML), established by the Ministry of Finance together with the Bank of Lithuania and the largest market participants, plays a very important role.
But the key factor of Lithuania’s ecosystem is humans. There are over 10 thousand professionals working in the field of preventing money laundering in Lithuania. The aim is for the Lithuanian talent community to constantly grow and improve, therefore, the Ministry of Finance, CEAML and Mykolas Riomeris University have established the Programme for Preventing Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, which ensures the entry of new qualified professionals into the market. As the training, retraining of professionals and the development of the Fintech sector continues, the talent base in Lithuania will further expand.
Since the agency will hire the professionals from all over Europe, other aspects, such as the fact that Vilnius, as the greenest capital of Europe, can offer a high quality of life with a wide range of green spaces, are also important in choosing the location. In the capital of the country, we have high quality health and social services, a multilingual education system that meets the highest standards, a dynamic and active labour market. As a country, Lithuania has a high level of foreign language proficiency. Vilnius can offer the Western quality of work and life to professionals across Europe in a city characterised by price competitiveness as compared to other Western capitals or major cities.
AMLA is beneficial for Lithuania
The establishment of AMLA in Vilnius would be a strong quality label confirming Lithuania’s achievements in this field and evaluating the multi-annual experience of the public sector and market participants. However, at the same time, AMLA’s entry into Lithuania would complement the ecosystem of the Lithuanian financial sector – AMLA is very important for both regulators and supervisory institutions as well as for private businesses.
Finally, AMLA established in Vilnius would also bring economic benefits, as the agency could employ about 400 professionals in the long term. The fact that some of the professionals, moving from Europe, will come with their families, means that the establishment of the agency in the capital would provide additional impetus to the economy of the city and of the country as well as to individual sectors.
At European level, the agency’s establishment initiative was shown in 2021. A consensus on where AMLA will be located and what specific mandate will be issued at EU level is expected to be reached by the end of this year, and the new institution is expected to start its work in the first half of next year.
AMLA will be the main institution to ensure a coherent and unified framework for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing in the EU financial sector and to coordinate actions with national supervisory institutions of the Member States.