When I signed up to attend last Friday’s conference on AML/CFT and the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, I was unsure about the purpose of the conference in the process of getting MLD4 onto the books. What we do know is that the Financial Action Task Force published its revised Forty Recommendations on 16 February 2012, and that the EU took note of these in its deliberations and published its draft of MLD4 on 5 February 2013. This conference then took place on 15 March 2013 – my email invitation having arrived on the same day as the publication of the draft of MLD4. What I wanted to know was: is the conference part of the consultation process or not? And views on this seemed to vary. When several questions were raised about specifics of MLD4, the moderator of the second panel – Ugo Bassi, Director of the Capital and Companies Directorate within the Internal Market and Services Directorate-General of the European Commission – literally (being Italian) metaphorically threw up his hands. This is now out of our control, he said, as it has gone to the legislature for them to turn it into legislation. We will pass on your comments, he promised – but the suggestion was that they might well have only very limited influence or success. Whether there were earlier gatherings, meetings, conferences or conclaves to take soundings from industry, I am not sure – perhaps one of you knows?
So, given that MLD4 is now making its way through the system, we have to ask when it might pop out the other end. Again, opinions seemed to be divided on this. During one break I spoke to a woman representing the UK estate agency sector, and she thought that it would all move very quickly: MLD4 out by the end of the year, and new UK Regulations by the summer of 2014. But others from the UK thought that it would be much slower, and that the UK would take the full implementation period – two years – giving us new Regulations in 2016. Of course, this is conflating two different questions: when will MLD4 appear, and then when will the UK transpose it. And I have to admit that I cannot answer either for you. But tomorrow I will answer an even more important question: does the European Commission serve good biscuits?