Swedish govt should ask EU to exempt pension schemes from anti-money laundering regulations

Insurance Sweden (Svensk Försäkring) has put pressure on Sweden’s Ministry of Finance to ask the European Commission to exempt occupational pension schemes from anti-money laundering rules.

In response to a consultation on the European Union’s (EU) new anti-money laundering regulations, the association has said the Ministry of Finance should pursue the issue of exempting all occupational pension activities from anti-money laundering regulations during future EU negotiations.

The European Commission has published a package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU’s EU's anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing (AML/CFT) rules. This includes the proposal for the creation of a new EU authority to fight money laundering. The plan is part of the Commission's commitment to protect EU citizens and the EU's financial system from money laundering and terrorist financing.

The commission said the proposals will “greatly enhance” the existing EU framework by taking into account new and emerging challenges linked to technological innovation.

“These include virtual currencies, more integrated financial flows in the Single Market and the global nature of terrorist organisations. These proposals will help to create a much more consistent framework to ease compliance for operators subject to AML/CFT rules, especially for those active cross-border,” the commission stated.

Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has asked for industry views on the proposals before it starts negotiations at an EU level. In response to this, Svensk Försäkring has emphasised the importance of the regulations being risk-based, with resources being used where they have the most benefit.

Commenting, Svensk Försäkring general counsel, Johan Lundström, said: “We are concerned about the rules being a part of EU regulation instead of in the Swedish Money Laundering Act. The proposal entails increased detailed regulation and reduced scope for adapting EU regulation to national conditions. We also see clear risks if direct supervision of operators is transferred to the EU level to a greater extent. The industry values Finansinspektionen's role in supervision.”

Svensk Försäkring also highlighted significant difficulties in complying with the money laundering rules in occupational pension operations. This is an issue that the industry has raised several times before and which can hopefully be resolved in the forthcoming negotiations. Despite the fact that the Swedish legislator has stated that the risk of money laundering is low, the current EU rules have meant that it has been difficult to do anything about this.

“The money laundering regulations should not be applied to occupational pension activities. Such activities run by occupational pension companies are already exempt and the corresponding exemption should also apply to the life insurance companies' occupational pension activities. I hope and assume that the Ministry of Finance wants to pursue this in the EU negotiations,” Lundström concluded.

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