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Vilnius: A Prime Contender to Host the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Agency (AMLA)

Vilnius: A Prime Contender to Host the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Agency (AMLA)

European Union countries are in a competitive race to host the Anti-Money Laundering Agency (AMLA), a critical body in the fight against financial crime. Among other contenders – Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Riga, and Vienna – Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, emerges as a compelling option.

Gintarė Skaistė, the Minister of Finance, highlighted Lithuania’s dedicated two-year pursuit to establish Vilnius as the ideal AMLA hub. The country boasts a robust foundation in financial sector risk management, a thriving community of compliance experts, strategic geographical location, cultural diversity, and a sterling reputation in traditional finance and Fintech.

Lithuania is well-prepared to provide AMLA employees and their families with top-notch education, healthcare services, integration into Vilnius’s dynamic multicultural job market, and living in one of Europe’s greenest capitals. The nation is also ready to furnish the agency with state-of-the-art facilities adhering to the highest quality standards.

Photo by Justinas Auškelis

Why Vilnius?

Lithuania stands among the world’s top 10 countries with the lowest money laundering and terrorist financing risks, according to the Basel AML Index 2023. Moreover, among countries vying for the AMLA seat, Lithuania holds the top position in the Basel Index.

Thriving as a financial technology (Fintech) leader, Lithuania hosts over 260 Fintech companies with more than 7,000 professionals specializing in various financial services. The country ranks 1st in the EU, with a total of 138 licensed fintechs, when it comes to licensed entities (payment institution, electronic money institution and special banking license holders).

Lithuania’s National Fintech Sector Development Plan 2023-2028 solidifies Lithuania’s prominence in European Fintech.

With a burgeoning financial technology sector, Lithuania consistently enhances its market and public sector ecosystem. The nation has adopted regulatory best practices to combat financial crime, supported by the collaborative Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Money Laundering involving the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Lithuania, and key market players.

Over 10,000 anti-money laundering professionals operate in Lithuania. The country offers a specialized certification program in Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention to sustain and enrich this talent pool, ensuring a steady influx of skilled professionals into the market.

Vilnius boasts more than 46 percent of its area covered in lush green spaces, contributing to its exceptional quality of life. The city offers top-notch healthcare, a multilingual education system, and a thriving job market. Recognized as European Green Capital for 2025 by the European Commission, Vilnius stands as a testament to its dedication to sustainability.

Lithuania’s impressive command of foreign languages, paired with a proactive ‘can-do’ approach, offers European professionals a work atmosphere in sync with Western standards, delivering notable achievements. Vilnius, as one of Europe’s youngest capitals, boasts over 50% of its population under 40 years old. An impressive 56% of individuals aged 25-34 possess tertiary education, highlighting the country’s emphasis on education. Moreover, Lithuania’s leading position in the IMD Index for digital skills availability underscores its adeptness in the digital realm, affirming its status as an attractive destination for those seeking a vibrant, tech-savvy professional environment.

The AMLA’s Role and Timeline

The AMLA, responsible for maintaining a unified EU framework against financial crime, will collaborate with national supervisory authorities across Member States.

Applications for hosting the AMLA were launched by the EC in September, with evaluations anticipated in December. Public hearings by the European Parliament next year will determine the most suitable candidate for hosting the AMLA.

For the first time, both the EU Council and Parliament will jointly decide the institution’s location, departing from the previous Council-driven process. Phased construction aims for the AMLA’s first operational unit by 2025.

With its strategic advantages, robust financial sector, and commitment to combatting financial crime, Lithuania emerges as a formidable choice to host the prestigious EU AML Agency.