At the official hearings in Brussels, Lithuania presented its candidacy for the establishment of AMLA in Vilnius

Vilnius' candidacy for the Anti-Money Laundering Agency (AMLA) to be established at the level of the European Union (EU) was officially presented at the joint hearings of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe today in Brussels. A final decision on AMLA's location is expected to be made by the end of February.

Vilnius has all the necessary advantages to win the competition: successful experience in risk management both in the traditional banking sector and in the innovative Fintech segment, an advanced compliance ecosystem based on public and private sector cooperation, the most important feature of which is a particularly large group of talents working in the prevention of money laundering in the area, the convenient location of Vilnius, the diversity of cultures and the country's good reputation. Vilnius would be the best home for the newly created EU money laundering prevention agency.

AMLA will be the main body ensuring a coherent and unified framework for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing in the financial sector at EU level. It is expected that the agency will employ about 400 specialists from all over Europe, and the budget of the institution will reach about EUR 70 million. It is planned that the new agency could start operating in 2024.

Vilnius is an exceptionally good location for AMLA

One of the key advantages of Vilnius, as future home for AMLA, is successful experience in managing money laundering risks and a high prevention implementation culture, which is characterised by exceptional cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as continuous improvement of the risk management system, implementation of international recommendations, proactive search for the best solutions.

Lithuania is considered to be one of the countries best managing money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and according to the Basel AML Index, in 2023 Lithuania ranked among top 10 countries with the lowest risk in the world. At the same time, among the countries that have expressed their willingness to participate in the call for AMLA seat, Lithuania is in the first position, according to the Basel Index.

Lithuania is one of the leading Fintech countries, established as an international Fintech hub. Lithuania has more than 250 Fintech companies, bringing together more than 7 thousand specialists, and their activities range from cross-border payments and transfers, digital banking, online investments to peer-to-peer borrowing, crowdfunding instrument management, etc. In addition, the National Development Plan for the Fintech Sector for 2023-2028 will help to ensure that Lithuania’s leadership in this sector is sustainable and continuous, promoting the quality development of Fintech by consolidating the position of the Centre of Excellence in Europe.

The rapid expansion of the FinTech sector also strengthens the market and public sector ecosystem, which is characterised by the competences of regulators and supervisors. Lithuania has good regulatory practice in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and other risks. Moreover, the Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Money Laundering (CEPML), established by the Ministry of Finance together with the Bank of Lithuania and the largest market participants, plays a very significant role.

However, a key factor of Lithuania’s ecosystem is people. There are over 10 thousand specialists working in the field of anti-money laundering in Lithuania. The efforts are made for the Lithuanian talent community to constantly grow and improve, therefore, the Ministry of Finance, CEPML and Mykolas Riomeris University have established a programme for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, which ensures the entry of new qualified professionals into the market. As the training of specialists, retraining and development of the financial technology sector continues, the talent base in Lithuania will continue to expand.

Since the authority will employ specialists from all over Europe, other aspects are also important when choosing the location, such as the fact that Vilnius, as the greenest capital of Europe, can offer a high quality of life with a wide range of green spaces. In the capital of the country, we have high quality healthcare and social services, a multilingual education system that meets the highest standards, a dynamic and active labour market. As a country, Lithuania has a high level of foreign language proficiency. Vilnius can offer Western quality of work and life to professionals across Europe in a city characterised by price competitiveness as compared to other Western capitals or major cities.

AMLA would be beneficial for Lithuania

The establishment of AMLA in Vilnius would be a strong quality mark, confirming Lithuania’s achievements in this field and evaluating the multi-annual achievements of the public sector and market participants. At the same time, AMLA’s entry into Lithuania would complement the ecosystem of the Lithuanian financial sector – AMLA would be of utmost importance for both the public and private sectors.

Finally, AMLA would also bring economic benefits in Vilnius, as the authority could eventually employ about 400 well-paid specialists. The fact that some of the professionals move from Europe, come with families means that the establishment of the institution in the capital would provide additional impetus to the economy and individual sectors of the city and the country.