De-risking or Recontracting: The Risk Dilemma of EU Money Laundering Regulation

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Purpose: Recent research and market effects within the European Union (EU) show a rising concern toward the de-risking of certain sectors/actors owing to the increased anti-money laundering regulation. Because of the enhanced due diligence and monitoring costs related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation by the AMLD4 and AMLD5, several financial institutions now turn to de-risking their corporate client base to minimize not only costs from monitoring and onboarding but also the risks of sanctions and reputation. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the incentives behind de-risking and the relevant solution models to the de-risking “crisis.” Overall, to find, to what extend de-risking is efficient and when it is not and how to mitigate the concept.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper applies a functional approach to law and economics with the aim of reaching a higher level of efficiency in combatting money laundering through analyzing present regulatory and economic conditions.

Findings: It is found that de-risking within the EU opposes the aim of the present regulatory scheme regarding anti-money laundering. The paper finds that it is needed to divide the analysis of de-risking to a national and regional/union level. In addition, this paper establishes that the present strategy of de-risking at national level eventually will result in enhanced regulation to fulfill the aim of the present regulatory framework, which is why a proactive approach by recontracting the client base is recommended. At a regional level, it is found that de-risking is valid, why a solution needs to come from the EU enhancing control, monitoring and sanctions to establish trust and the possibility for financial inclusion.

Originality/value: Most of the recent research within the field highlights the problem of de-risking and therefore presents a range of initiatives to regulators and financial institutions at a global level. This paper solely focuses on the EU and shows that the de-risking dilemma demands financial institutions to take a proactive approach to contracting if unnecessary regulation is to be hindered. Furthermore, this paper shows that the concept of de-risking cannot be analyzed nor mitigated as one singular concept, but it needs to be addressed according to different levels of activity and geography.
TidsskriftThe Journal of Risk Finance
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)445-458
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2020

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 1 October 2020.


  • Financial inclusion
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Legitimate economy
  • De-risking
  • Sustainable finance