THE ITALIAN AML/CFT SYSTEM
ALWAYS ONE STEP AHEAD AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING (ML) AND TERRORISM FINANCING (TF)
The Italian legal and institutional framework for preventing and combating ML/TF – whose origin dates back to the 1970s, when the crime of money laundering was introduced into the national legislation – has proved to be one of the most advanced and effective worldwide, with a track record that highlights its successful fight against criminal phenomena and terrorism.
Indeed, Italy is one of the founding members of the FATF and has always been at the forefront of AML/CFT actions, constantly and successfully promoted both nationally and internationally:
the “Follow the money” approach has been extensively used by Italian prosecutors and has become a global golden standard, inspiring strategies and actions against the most powerful international criminal networks;
innovative digital technologies, infrastructures and services are employed to carry out operational and strategic analysis on AML/CFT phenomena;
cutting-edge solutions in the AML/CFT field were introduced well in advance of EU regulation and guidelines – such as: i) the implementation of central registries, i.e. the National Register of Bank Accounts; ii) the entry into force of a specific AML regulation regarding organisation and internal control of financial intermediaries.
Italy plays a prominent role in both EU and international fora in promoting initiatives in the AML/CFT field, giving impetus to EU and international actions and introducing approaches that have become successful globally. For example, the 2012 FATF standards, released under the Italian Presidency of the FATF, stress the importance of a strong domestic coordination among AML/CFT authorities, taking inspiration from the well-established Italian experience.
AN OPEN, COOPERATIVE,
AND EFFICIENT SYSTEM
The Italian AML/CFT system involves a broad network of ministries, supervisors (Banca d’Italia, CONSOB, IVASS), the FIU (Unità di Informazione Finanziaria per l’Italia - UIF, Financial Intelligence Unit for Italy), Law Enforcement Agencies (Guardia di Finanza; Direzione Investigativa Antimafia - DIA, Antimafia Investigative Directorate) and judicial authorities (Direzione Nazionale Antimafia e Antiterrorismo - DNA, National Antimafia and Antiterrorism Directorate), whose actions are open to international cooperation and to implementing new efficient methodologies and tools.
A central role for active cooperation amongst the competent authorities is assigned to the Financial Security Committee, chaired by the Head of the Treasury Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Close cooperation with all competent authorities is pursued, for example in the anti-corruption area, given the direct interrelations between corruption and money laundering. It is worth mentioning that the Autorità Nazionale Anticorruzione - ANAC (National Anti-Corruption Authority) is based in Rome.
A relevant contribution to preventing and combating ML/TF is also made by the private sector: acting as ‘gatekeepers’, not only do private entities comply with AML/CFT rules, but they also actively cooperate with the authorities. The action of the above-mentioned authorities is an example of the long-standing effective cooperation that began long before FATF standards were issued. All Italian authorities have a strong track record of cooperation and exchange of data, information and best practices both at the domestic level and at the level of their European and international counterparts.
Italian AML/CFT authorities are deeply involved in several AML/CFT sectoral global and regional bodies as well as in expert groups, both at policy and technical level through their active participation (namely: FATF, Moneyval, EU Expert Group on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, AML Standing Committee within the European Banking Authority, Egmont Group of FIUs, EU FIUs’ Platform, FIU.NET Project).
The remarkable solidity of the Italian AML/CFT system was acknowledged by the FATF Mutual Evaluation Report on Italy (2016), which states that “Italy has a mature and sophisticated AML/CFT regime, with a correspondingly well-developed legal and institutional framework…”. “All the main authorities have a good understanding of the ML and terrorist financing (TF) risks…”. “The UIF is a well-functioning financial intelligence unit. It produces good operational and high-quality strategic analyses that add value to the STRs”. “LEAs and prosecutors are able to successfully undertake large and complex financial investigations”. “Italy has a strong framework for cooperation and provides constructive and timely assistance when requested by other countries”.
TANGIBLE RESULTS OF AML/CFT ITALIAN ACTION
The growing awareness of obliged entities and the ability of the Italian authorities to intercept illegal behaviours through a comprehensive system of preventive measures and to effectively adopt repressive actions have enabled Italy to achieve extremely significant results in the AML/CFT field.
This applies to both supervisory and preventative measures, including financial analyses and investigations, as well as to the management of seized and confiscated assets. More in detail:
* Seizures arose from 3,227 investigations over the period 2020-2022.
** The STRs sent to a DNA’s Working Group are aimed at giving impetus to the National Antimafia and Antiterrorism Prosecutors, as part of the first pre-investigation phase.