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Albania’s Efforts to Combat Money Laundering Show Progress, More Work Ahead

Albania has improved measures for tackling money laundering and terrorist financing but there is still work to be done, according to the Council of Europe’s MONEYVAL follow up report, published on Wednesday.

The EU candidate country has been on the FATF grey list since 2020, but according to the report, it has improved compliance with one recommendation on transparency and beneficial ownership, and another on the regulation and supervision of non-financial businesses and professions. As such, Albania has been re-rated from partially compliant to largely compliant.

MONEYVAL noted that action was taken to address important shortcomings regarding trustees being subject to AML requirements while also streamlining access to beneficial ownership information for the authorities. The country also improved measures for regulating and supervising notaries and real estate agents. LIcenses can now be revoked if AML legislation is infringed.

Overall, Albania is rated compliant in six recommendations, largely compliant in 31 recommendations and partially compliant in one. Albania must report back in two years to MONEYVAL on further progress made.

In March, the ruling Socialist Party introduced proposed amendments to AML laws, including changing the name of the General Directorate of Money Laundering Prevention to the Financial Intelligence Agency. This change grants the agency separate status from the civil service and introduces a new salary scale comparable to the judicial system.

Other amendments facilitate investigations into cryptocurrency usage, currency exchange, and the tracking of IP addresses associated with such transactions.

Last year, the country registered a slight improvement in its overall risk of money laundering, but still ranks worst in the region.

Albania came 74th out of 128 countries and scored 4.92 points out of ten, with zero being the lowest risk. Kosovo scored 4.14, Serbia 4.87, North Macedonia 3.94 and Montenegro 3.99. Nearby EU member states did not fare so well either, as Greece got 3.7 and Italy 4.55.

Since 2020, the FATF said Albania has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by demonstrating a meaningful increase in the number of money laundering cases indicted, particularly those stemming from foreign offences where the criminal proceeds were laundered in Albania.

The FATF also said earlier this year that while it made the initial determination that Albania has substantially completed its action plan and appreciates Albania’s work to address its strategic deficiencies, it is not enough to consider taking it off the grey list.

Source: Euractiv