Financial institutions

EBA calls on financial institutions to facilitate access to basic payment accounts for refugees

The European Banking Authority (EBA) strongly condemns the recent developments which weigh heavily on the Ukrainian state, society and economy. Following the invasion of Ukraine, the Council of the EU adopted restrictive measures against Russia and Belarus which require action by the financial sector.

The EBA is working with the competent authorities to ensure the proper implementation by all financial institutions of these restrictive measures. In this context, the EBA will collect and filter queries related to the scope of the restrictive measures as they apply to banks, and will forward them to the European Commission, which will respond to them. The EBA will continue to closely monitor and assess the situation in order to inform the decisions and actions needed to mitigate risks in the short and medium term and stands ready to act within its competence.

The EBA stresses the need for European banks and other financial institutions to implement and respect the restrictive measures adopted in response to the Ukrainian crisis. Financial institutions are required to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls and governance to ensure compliance with these measures and to adapt or improve systems and processes as necessary.

Competent authorities strive to ensure the adequacy of internal controls and governance in supervised entities. Competent authorities also work closely with supervised institutions, financial intelligence units (FIUs) and law enforcement to identify, monitor and raise awareness of fraud and financial crime typologies and prevent circumvention of restrictive measures. This will help ensure the consistent implementation of EU restrictive measures across the financial sector and safeguard the smooth functioning of the single market.

The EBA urges banks and other financial institutions to carefully consider the prudential and commercial impact of the short and long-term risks they face in light of these geopolitical developments. This includes the broader impact of economic and political sanctions as well as increased economic uncertainty and vulnerabilities resulting from the current situation. Cyber ​​risks are a particular area requiring continued attention. In this context, banks and other financial institutions are invited to reflect on the relevance of their business continuity plans.
Refugee assistance measures

On March 4, 2022, EU ministers activated the Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC) introducing temporary protection and support for people fleeing Ukraine as a result of war. Competent national authorities should ensure that, in accordance with the Payment Accounts Directive (2014/92/EU), IDPs from Ukraine have access to the opening and use of payment accounts with basic services.

Financial institutions should follow a risk-based approach when providing financial products in this situation and take advantage of the flexibility enshrined in EU anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing legislation ( AML/CFT). The EBA Guidelines on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Factors and the EBA Advice on Due Diligence for Asylum Seekers should help financial institutions.