On Wednesday 22 March 2023, the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, held a hearing regarding the activities of the Bank of Italy.
Among others, Governor Ignazio Visco talked about the recent development regarding AML/CFT regulation. In 2022, for example, the Anti-Money Laundering Supervision and Regulation Unit was established to monitor AML compliance of financial intermediaries and banks; this new body is vested with the authority to regulate, supervise, and even sanction to ensure smooth integration with the Anti-Money-Laundering Authority (AMLA), as its establishment has been proposed by the European Commission back in July 2021. Moreover, the AMLA is set to take over some of the competences which are currently held by the European Banking Authority (EBA).
The Anti-Money Laundering Supervision and Regulation Unit will operate in parallel with the Financial Intelligence Unit, tasked with compiling and analysing information regarding cases of money laundering and terrorism financing hypotheses, to then relay to relevant authorities for subsequent investigation.
Senator Mauro Del Barba, based on the explanation provided by Governor Visco, noted that the instrument of loan assignment, especially in the form of unlimited assignment, has recently created an analogy with tax anticipation notes, and asked whether the instrument of tax anticipation notes could interfere with monetary policy.
Senator Del Barba also asked if Governor Visco is aware that ever stricter AML regulation results in the unintended consequence of financial exclusion of NGOs and political activists from the banking system.
Governor Visco replied that the banking system in Italy offers particular types of bank accounts accessible to everybody and that several regulations have already been introduced with the potential to handle such cases of interference. Governor Visco continued by explaining that such cases of financial exclusion are a consequence of Know Your Customer (KYC) policies, according to which the bank may decide to stop providing its services, and that such cases of financial exclusion are not only omnipresent and not unique to Italy, but also contained and reduced thanks to current policies. Despite False Positives, he highlighted the importance of maintaining decisive prosecution against money laundering.
Senator Del Barba met with the Building True Change Coalition (BTC Coalition), coordinated by the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), to learn about concrete cases of abuse of AML/CFT regulations. The testimonials provided by the BTC Coalition include Anna Chekhovich, Financial Director of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Bota Jardemalie, a Harvard Law graduate, a licensed attorney in the State of New York, and a human rights defender from Kazakhstan, Jaroslav Likhachevsky, Co-Founder of New Belarus platform and the Bysol Foundation and Director of the AI company Deepdee, Ismail Mesut Sezgin, Turkish opposition political commentator and Research Assistant at Regent’s Park College, Fadi Elsalameen, a prominent critic of corruption in the Palestinian Authority government and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the American Security Project and the Bitcoin Policy Institute in the US, Obi Nwosu, former CEO of a regulated Bitcoin exchange Coinfloor, and Jesús González, a computer engineer and representative of the Venezuelan opposition.