Money laundering counter-measures in the European Union: a new paradigm of security governance versus fundamental legal principles
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The past decade witnessed the emergence in the European Union of a comprehensive legal framework aimed at countering money laundering. The aim of the thesis is to place these measures in context, by examining their evolution in the light of parallel developments in the fields of international relations and crime prevention and control. Through the employment of an interdisciplinary approach, it is demonstrated that the development of money laundering counter-measures in the European Union is inextricably linked with the reconceptualisation of security in the international arena, now extending beyond the narrow state/military realm and including threats such as organised crime and, related to that, money laundering. Money laundering counter-measures are thus legitimated as emergency measures deemed as necessary to address these newly perceived threats. In this context, and following international political pressure for the adoption of a global anti-money laundering framework, the European Union counter-measures constitute a new paradigm of security governance, achieved through three principal methods: criminalisation, consisting in the emergence of a new criminal offence of money laundering; responsibilisation, consisting in the mobilisation of the private sector to co-operate with the authorities in the fight against money laundering; and the emphasis on the administration of knowledge, through the establishment of new institutions, the financial intelligence units, with extensive powers to administer a wide range of information provided by the private sector. All three methods pose significant challenges to fundamental legal principles and ultimately, to well-established social transactions and bonds. The analysis will focus on these challenges, which become more acute in the light of the constant evolution of these measures. An attempt will thus be made to demonstrate that a 'securitised' anti-money laundering paradigm, which may serve as a mould for subsequent initiatives in the field of organised crime, has the potential to undermine the very essence of fundamental legal principles and rights. This is particularly the case in the European Union as the latter's ambitious position as an international security actor putting forward a security paradigm in the field of money laundering is not accompanied by analogous powers to protect fundamental rights. In view of these dangers, a call will be made for the 'de-securitisation' of money laundering counter-measures, through attempts towards a realistic and wellfounded estimation of the actual threat and the promotion of legal certainty and respect of fundamental legal principles in the drafting of new measures. At the same time, the imposition of security measures by the European Union must be accompanied by the constitutionalisation at the EU level of the protection of fundamental legal principles and human rights.