The Republic is being touted as a possible location for a new EU-wide regulator for money laundering and terrorist financing controls, which would bring with it up to 600 high-paying jobs.
Brussels is looking to centralise its anti-money laundering/countering of the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) function in one country. The proposals form part of the EU's Security Union Strategy with the measures set to come into practice by 2026.
Dublin, which is used by many global banks as their EU hub, is seen as having significant expertise in financial services and therefore as a possible candidate.
The proposed agency would have legal powers to supervise national authorities. The EU’s strategy also proposes harmonising regulations across member states and improving investigations into what are often complex crimes, across multiple jurisdictions.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the umbrella group for the accountancy profession here, said Ireland could position itself within the EU as a centre of excellence for AML/CFT services which could lead to up to 600 new jobs being created.
A single EU regulator means that banks will be seeking to manage costs by centralising their AML/CFT function in one country and Ireland with its existing expertise in financial services, is ideally positioned to capitalise, the head of ACCA Ireland, Caitriona Allis, said.
“Our financial services offering is extremely attractive, and we already have a strong cluster of banks and institutions with operations bases here. This gives us a significant advantage in attracting the new investment that will be on offer as part of this regulatory change to AML/CFT,” Ms Allis said.
“We must leverage our assets in order to attract investment in this area and to do this we need a strategy that will target and incentivise banks with bases in Ireland to further invest and create AML/CFT operations here,” she said.
The opportunity for Ireland to host this plank of EU regulation was discussed at a recent ACCA roundtable event, which included Minister for Financial Services Sean Fleming and Raluca Pruna, who is head of financial crime at the European Commission.
Minister Fleming said: “We welcome the efforts made by the Commission to strengthen the anti-money laundering framework.”
"The Department of Finance will continue to engage with the Commission to ensure the proposals are comprehensive, but also our businesses and economy," he said.