In June 1995, representatives of a number of government agencies and international organizations gathered at the Egmont-Arenberg Palace in Brussels to discuss issues of money laundering and ways to tackle this global challenge. This first meeting resulted in the formation of the Egmont Group - an unofficial organization of government agencies that receive disclosures united by a common goal of forming a collective mechanism to strengthen mutual cooperation and information exchange that would contribute to the detection and deterrence of money laundering and subsequently – terrorist financing.
Soon after the Group’s creation, its members recognized the need to work out effective and practical methods of cooperation, especially in the field of exchanging information and sharing AML experience. To this end, the Legal Working Group formed within the Egmont Group analyzed the obstacles complicating information exchange among government agencies directly involved in AML efforts by processing financial data. To identify agencies that receive disclosures and better understand the way these agencies function, various jurisdictions completed questionnaires and submitted them to the Legal Working Group for analysis. Based on the responses, the Legal Working Group came up with a functional definition of government agencies that fight money laundering, which came to be known as Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
Although the Egmont Group FIUs originally focused on anti-money laundering for the most part, the FIUs also play a key role in the global effort against terrorist financing. Information disclosures received, analyzed and passed on by the FIUs provide a priceless source of information for the national agencies involved in combating terrorist financing. To comply with mandatory international standards, many countries have already amended or are in the process of amending their national laws in order to include terrorist financing as a separate crime in the focus of FIU activities, thereby expanding the range of FIU functions.
The main documents of the Egmont Group underlying its activities are the Statement of Purpose (originally adopted in Madrid on June 24th 1997, with amendments made in Hague on June 13th 2001, in Sydney on July 23rd 2003, and on Guernsey on June 23rd 2004) and the Principles of Information Exchange Among Financial Intelligence Units, which are an addition to the Statement of Purpose of the Egmont Group.
FIU as defined by the Egmont Group
Based on the results produced by the Legal Working Group, in 1996 the Egmont Group approved the following definition of an FIU, which was later amended in 2004 to reflect the FIU role in combating terrorist financing:
“A central, national agency responsible for receiving, (and as permitted, requesting), analysing and disseminating to the competent authorities, disclosures of financial information:
(i) concerning suspected proceeds of crime and potential financing of terrorism, or
(ii) required by national legislation or regulation,
in order to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.”
Egmont Group structure
Egmont Group members
As of September 10, 2010, Egmont Group membership included financial intelligence units of 116 countries and jurisdictions.
Egmont Group observers