Anti-money laundering in Lithuania taken to a qualitatively new level

Today, the Centre of Excellence in Anti-Money Laundering starts its activities in Lithuania. Bringing together representatives of both the public and private sectors, it aims to lift anti-money laundering practices implemented in the country to a whole new level. The Centre will be led by Eimantas Vytuvis, a highly experienced lawyer and certified anti-money laundering specialist.

“We believe that the partnership of public and private sectors will ensure higher confidence and closer cooperation between institutions in pursuit of their common objectives. Consolidation and enhancement of competences for anti-money laundering purposes will help develop and maintain resilience of Lithuania to money laundering threats,” said Vaida Česnulevičiūtė, Vice-Minister of Finance.

The Centre of Excellence in Anti-Money Laundering will share information on the money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) typologies and set up a dedicated information exchange platform to help financial market participant properly identify and manage their risks. It will also carry out studies, assessments and analyses, prepare guidelines, recommendations, methodologies and legislative initiatives to improve the AML/CTF framework in Lithuania. The Centre will assist private sector entities in conducting internal risk assessment and strengthen the public and private sectors’ competencies in the AML/CTF field, organise trainings, seminars, conferences and other events as well as publish information on its activities.

“With this ambitious project, we seek to provide financial market participants with the best expert support. We can ensure effective prevention of money laundering, complying with the recent global standards, only by working together, and thus the state’s contribution is also crucial here,” said Eimantas Vytuvis.

Having started his career in the police, Mr Vytuvis later worked at the Special Investigation Service, where he investigated corruption crimes, then supervised anti‑money laundering issues at Nordea and Luminor banks, and since April 2018 headed the Customer Risk Management Unit at Luminor Group. Mr Vytuvis is a certified specialist accredited by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS).

Although there are currently around 20 anti-money laundering centres based on public-private partnership around the globe, the Lithuanian model is quite unique, as it is not limited to the initiative of individual institutions and market participants – it takes the fight against money laundering to the national level.

“Up until now, the Bank of Lithuania, as a financial market supervision authority, the financial sector and law enforcement institutions have lacked a link that would allow us to combine our knowledge and accumulated experience as well as to use it more efficiently. The Centre of Excellence in Anti-Money Laundering is going to addresses this issue and provide us with new opportunities to not only respond more quickly to the current challenges, but also look beyond the horizon,” said Jekaterina Govina, Director of the Financial Market Supervision Service of the Bank of Lithuania.

The Centre is founded by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, the Bank of Lithuania, commercial banks (AB SEB bankas, Swedbank, AB, AB Šiaulių bankas, Luminor Bank AS Lithuanian branch, UAB Medicinos bankas, Revolut Bank, UAB, AS Citadele banka Lithuanian branch and OP Corporate Bank plc Lithuanian branch). The Financial Crime Investigation Service, the Police Department, the State Tax Inspectorate and the Prosecutor General’s Office are also expected to take joint action with the Centre, while in the near future, other financial market participants, such as electronic money and payment institutions, will be invited to join its activities as well.

“The active involvement of Lithuanian credit institutions in this exceptional public-private partnership project reveals an established and responsible approach of our financial community to challenges that transcends national borders. This united initiative, which we can be proud of on a regional scale, will contribute to strengthening the reputation of Lithuania and the entire Baltic region. The first step towards the partnership in the field of money laundering prevention was already taken by the members of the Association last year, when unified Guidelines on customer due diligence were approved, reflecting the best international practice in this field,” emphasized Dr. Eivilė Čipkutė, President of the Lithuanian Banking Association.

The Centre’s activities will be financed by annual contributions made by the Bank of Lithuania and representatives of the private sector. The state’s contribution reaches €30,000 from the total state appropriations allocated to the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania.