Luxembourgh Times

Parliament: EIB must step up money laundering fight

Annual report also chides EIB for revolving doors for senior staff, lack of women in management

The EU parliament will vote on the resolutions in summer

The EU parliament will vote on the resolutions in summer © Photo credit: AFP

Julie Éddé

The European Parliament reiterated calls for the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank to step up its fight against money laundering as it lends out billions of euros to projects across the world, including in countries where the risk of corruption or other shady finances is large.

The bank last year conceded that more work remained to be done, after a similar call from parliament for the EIB to implement the standards of the European Union's own anti-money laundering rules, when the Luxembourg Times revealed a widespread range of compliance failures.

The EIB still does not fully disclose the details of the real owners behind some of the financial structures it lends money to, according to the draft of the parliament's latest annual report, which it compiled in May.

Parliament reiterated “the need that [European Investment Fund] compliance and EIB [compliance] work together to bring consistency to the design and implementation of the EIB group policies in the sectors of anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing,” the report said.

The compliance gaps were known by the board of governors which is composed of the finance ministers of EU countries, documents showed at the time.

Parliament also said it “expresses its concern over reports that several former Vice-Presidents have taken up employment at entities associated with the EIB without respecting a cooling-off period and deplores the fact that such practices are not…prohibited by the EIB’s code of conduct.”

Vice-Presidents who make up the management committee of the bank were at the center of a controversy in April when two of them joined employers who have dealings with the EIB before the end of a cooling-off period.

Former Vice-President Andrew McDowell joined consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a consultant to the bank, and Emma Navarro joined Spanish Iberdrola, after overseeing the issuance of loans to the utility firm.

Members of parliament called on the bank to bar such senior staff from overseeing lending and the implementation of projects in their home countries as this created too much of a conflict of interest, the report said.

The EIB still has not finalised its review of policies for where senior staff can work after they leave the bank, parliament said, calling the bank to align itself with the European Commission and other institutions with stricter rules.

The report also noted a “persistent lack of diversity and gender balance at senior management level and within the EIB Group’s governing bodies as well as a very high share of women in support functions.”

A target to increase the percentage of female managers to 33% by 2021 is below that of the Commission, where it is 40%.