As delivered by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Chair of MONEYVAL,
Executive Secretary of the Financial Action Task Force, the FATF,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to open MONEYVAL’s 64th Plenary Session on this, its 25-year anniversary.
Over a quarter century, and five rounds of mutual evaluations, this monitoring body has done great work in finding and closing the loopholes in order to prevent money laundering.
With time, MONEYVAL’s mandate has also expanded to include the combatting of terrorist financing –
And preventing the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
All of this is vitally important.
So, I begin by thanking you here today - and the hundreds of other experts who have served as Committee members over the past 25 years.
We owe all of you our sincere gratitude.
I also want to take this opportunity to put in context the role that MONEYVAL plays in helping the Council of Europe to fulfil its mandate –
In all three pillars of our work protecting and promoting common European standards.
The rule of law which this Committee supports by tackling organised crime and international terrorism.
Human rights, especially social rights, where MONEYVAL helps ensure that money is not siphoned out of the economy by wealthy criminals through various forms of corruption –
But can instead go into the education, housing and healthcare where it is often badly needed.
And democracy –
Because nothing corrodes institutions and public trust in the way that “dirty money” does –
Especially if it is thought that the authorities are doing nothing to stop it.
MONEYVAL is of course known for the integrity of its work and quality of its reports –
And it is not only within the Council of Europe that it has built this strong reputation.
MONEYVAL is the only FATF-style regional body to be embedded within an international human rights organisation –
You also have an important voice in the Global Network –
And you paved the way for the Council of Europe’s observer status at the FATF, granted earlier this year.
Think of the FATF’s work on combatting the financial flows from migrant smuggling or human trafficking –
Or how the global standard can have unintended negative consequences for human rights, such as the undue targeting of non-governmental organisations –
These issues are of profound concern for all of us – and for the Council of Europe.
Which only confirms the relevance and the key role of MONEYVAL and of our Organisation.
These are times of political turbulence and rapid technical innovation –
And they create new incentives and new opportunities for money launderers, terrorist financiers and other criminals.
Scandals such as the Pandora Papers continue to reveal weaknesses in our systems.
Even the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to new avenues for financial crime.
And Russia’s illegal and appalling war in Ukraine only confirms that authoritarian regimes sustain themselves through corruption and money laundering, undermining fundamental human rights.
Blocking corrupt actors from legitimate markets is necessary to ensure change.
And many of the tainted assets currently frozen in Europe through sanctions, should have been seized long before now through the proper use of
anti-money laundering legislation.
Political will is central to tackling these and other problems.
And so too is the work of this Committee.
The ratings in your current round of evaluations show that your peer review system is helping to drive results, and that the collective MONEYVAL mechanism is working as it should.
But there is room to do more still.
I know that you share this view and that you will use this week to discuss a new Strategy that will guide your work in the years to come.
Crucially, on how you can further strengthen the mutual evaluations mechanism –
And enhance your political standing and work with other parts of the Organisation –
Co-operating, for example, on artificial intelligence, cybercrime, and data protection, and a range of other human rights issues.
This week’s thematic session on money laundering and human trafficking, with participation of the President of GRETA, is also a very good example.
I know that you will look at your future planning and how you intend to respond to the new and emerging trends in your field of expertise –
Including problems associated with cryptocurrencies, on which you are already at work.
On top of that, you have two very important mutual evaluation reports to consider –
On Monaco and on Estonia.
All of this mirrors your ambition, your professional skills, and your standing within this Organisation and the Global Network –
I can only wish you all the best and a very successful Plenary Meeting –
And again, a very happy 25th anniversary!
May there be many more.
Thank you for your attention.