Estonia joins Council of Europe anti-money laundering convention


Estonia last week signed the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism.

The member states that have acceded to the convention participate in an international cooperation system that follows common policy principles in the prevention, detection and solving of cross-border money laundering crimes, the Estonian Finance Ministry said.

The convention is the first international treaty covering both the prevention and the control of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The text addresses the fact that quick access to financial information or information on assets held by criminal organizations, including terrorist groups, is the key to successful preventive and repressive measures, and, ultimately, is the best way to stop them, the Council of Europe has said.

"By signing the convention Estonia demonstrates the wish to make its allround contribution to preventing and detecting money laundering and terrorism financing crimes as well as confiscation of illegal proceeds. This definitely will have a positive effect on Estonia's international reputation," said Kurmet Ojamaa, departmental head at the Finance Ministry. He added that accession to the convention will improve cooperation with other countries in combating money laundering and financing of terrorism.

In order to implement the convention, amendments have to be made to the Estonian Penal Code and the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act. A reform is needed also in the system of administration of seized assets, as the currently valid regulation does not meet the requirements set out in the convention. The convention thus has to be ratified by the Estonian parliament.

The Council of Europe convention was opened for signature in Warsaw on May 16, 2005. Before the signing by Estonia on March 7 it had been joined by 34 nations and the European Union and had been ratified by 22 member states of the Council of Europe. The convention stepped into effect on May 1, 2008.