Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Latvia are pushing for the establishment of a new supervisory authority that would take over from national oversight of money laundering at financial firms after a series of scandals with European banks.
In a joint statement, these EU heavyweights said that the 28-country EU needed a "central supervisor" to tackle the flow of dirty money within the bloc's financial system.
"Where large financial interests are at stake, there is a risk of national supervisors being influenced directly or indirectly by supervised institutions or interest groups," the statement said.
Where large financial interests are at stake, there is a risk of national supervisors being influenced directly or indirectly by supervised institutions or interest groups"
The six countries said the new supervisor could be a new body or an existing watchdog, the European Banking Authority (EBA), which would need to be beefed up.
The move comes after European banks in Malta (Pilatus Bank), Latvia and Cyprus were shuttered over money laundering activities. Banks in the Baltics and Northern Europe were also involved in suspicious transactions worth billions of euros of Russian dirty money through the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, in what is seen as the worst money-laundering scandal on the continent.
The six countries also called for new anti-money laundering rules, in what would be the sixth review of those provisions, just one year after their latest overhaul was agreed in a reform now judged as "not decisive" by the six countries.
One in five UK law firms is failing to maintain adequate systems to prevent money laundering, according to the industry watchdog, amid government warnings that solicitors are being targeted by fraudsters.