Anti-money laundering Supervision and Regulation

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Money laundering and terrorism financing are a serious threat to the economy and to people's security, and can have destabilizing effects on the financial system.

The transnational nature of these phenomena is the foundation for a significant process of international harmonization of the rules on and the supervision of these issues. This is in order to prevent those who transfer funds of illegal origin from exploiting loopholes in the safeguards set up by various countries.


At international level, the guiding role taken on by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is fundamental. It is an organization that draws up and promotes standards for the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, analyses the techniques of and changes in these phenomena, and assesses and monitors national systems, thereby making a decisive contribution to the coordination between countries. The FATF comprises 37 member countries and two regional organizations - which represent most important financial centres at global level - and several important international and sectoral financial organizations have observer status. The FATF has drawn up a set of standards, known as the 40 Recommendations, adopted in February 2012 and regularly updated.

As regards the European Union, several initiatives have been taken or are underway to increase the effectiveness of actions to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

On the regulatory front, the rules have been increasingly harmonized over the years. They are currently constituted by the fourth anti-money laundering directive (2015/849, as amended by the fifth directive, 2018/843), by the delegated regulations of the European Commission and by the Guidelines of the European Banking Authority (EBA). However, an important review process is underway, which will transfer the main anti-money laundering directives, currently contained in the directive, to a European regulation.

In order to ensure more robust and uniform supervisory practices, the role of the EBA has been strengthened in the last few years. It has been entrusted with certain coordination and monitoring powers over national authorities. Further measures are expected in the near future: the review process currently underway in Europe includes setting up a new European authority, the Anti Money-Laundering Authority, (AMLA), which will directly supervise European intermediaries with the riskiest profiles in terms of money laundering and terrorism financing. For the remaining intermediaries and other entities that, like intermediaries, contribute to the fight against these phenomena (for example, lawyers, accountants, notaries, gaming sector operators, auditing firms and estate agents), it is envisaged that the European authority is tasked with indirect supervision, coordination and assistance for national authorities. This is to ensure uniform standards for supervision and common methodologies for assessing the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.


In Italy, the anti-money laundering rules are contained in Legislative Decree 231/2007 (amended over time, in part to reflect the changes in European legislation). The same legislative decree tasks the Bank of Italy with the regulation and supervision of intermediaries for anti-money laundering purposes and to combat the financing of terrorism. It also established the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF), which operates autonomously and independently within the Bank of Italy.

In order to implement this legislative decree, the Bank of Italy has issued a series of secondary provisions, addressed to the intermediaries it supervises, on the following aspects:

  1. organization, procedures and internal controls;
  2. customer due diligence;
  3. record keeping and sharing of documents, data and information
  4. sanctions and the administrative sanction procedure.

The Bank of Italy's supervision of money laundering is directed at all banks, investment firms (SIM), intermediaries for managed assets, financial intermediaries, some trust companies, payment institutions and electronic money institutions operating in Italy. Its purpose is to verify the compliance of these intermediaries with the obligations provided for by the legislation and the adequacy of their organizational and procedural safeguards, which are required to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Supervision is conducted by means of analyses and interventions designed to swiftly identify signs of weakness in the technical and organizational anti-money laundering set-ups and to prompt their removal by adopting appropriate corrective measures. The work consists of off-site checks - based on analysis of the intelligence gathered, including from financial intermediaries - and inspections, mainly intended to verify the adequacy of the anti-money laundering organization and of the procedures followed by intermediaries.


Specific measures are adopted in the event of criticalities involving operators. They include convening the administrative, management and supervisory bodies of the intermediaries as well as prohibiting new transactions.

In the event of management irregularities or of serious, repeated, systematic and multiple regulatory violations, sanctions procedures are undertaken against intermediaries and/or executives, which may end with the application of financial and non-financial sanctions. The latter can be imposed on natural persons (such as a temporary ban on the activities performed by intermediaries) or on the entity (such as a 'cease and desist' order).