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Frankfurt Named HQ for New EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority Supervising Crypto Sector

The European Union is stepping up its efforts to combat money laundering with the establishment of the new Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA), which is set to be headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial hub.

According to a press release from the Council of the EU and the European Council on February 22, the AMLA is bound to commence operations by mid-2025.

Tasked with supervising “high-risk and cross-border financial entities,” including cryptocurrency firms, particularly those operating across borders or considered high-risk, the AMLA will collaborate closely with financial intelligence units and regulators across EU member states.

The decision to choose Frankfurt as the AMLA’s base was announced following deliberations among several alternative locations, including Brussels, Dublin, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Riga, Vilnius, and Vienna. Frankfurt’s selection was boosted by its existing financial infrastructure, as evidenced by the presence of the European Central Bank in the city.

The AMLA’s governance structure will comprise a general board consisting of representatives from regulatory bodies and financial intelligence units of all EU member states. Meanwhile, the executive board will be composed of the chair and five independent full-time members.

In parallel with the establishment of the AMLA, the EU has been actively refining its regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. In fact, the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA), introduced in June 2023, is the EU’s first comprehensive crypto framework.

Specific regulations pertaining to “asset-referenced tokens” and “e-money tokens,” notably stablecoins, are expected to take effect in June 2024, followed by regulations for “crypto-asset service providers,” encompassing trading platforms, wallet providers, and cryptocurrency exchanges and services, ready for implementation in December 2024.

Moreover, the EU is also advancing regulations on artificial intelligence (AI). The European Parliament’s Internal Market and Civil Liberties Committees recently approved a preliminary agreement on the European AI Act, considered to be the world’s first AI-focused legislation.

This legislation aims to establish safeguards against AI applications that threaten citizens’ rights, such as biometric categorization and social scoring, while providing copyright protection for creators of generative AI models. The first parliamentary vote on the AI Act is scheduled for April 2024.

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