The Director General of Financial Conduct at the Central Bank has said borders must not be a barrier to effective criminal investigations.

Speaking at the International Fraud Prevention Conference today, Derville Rowland said the new European Commission Anti-Money Laundering Action Plan was a welcome addition.

"Given the global nature of the financial crime networks, any initiatives that will support cross-border co-operation and information sharing amongst law enforcement authorities is to be welcomed," she said.

"If borders are not a barrier to criminals, they must not be a barrier to effective global criminal investigations either."

Ms Rowland said the plan brought a move towards a more coordinated and cross-border focus on the fight against money-laundering and terrorist financing.

"The establishment of a single Supervisor for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism frameworks will deliver a consistent application of the rules and eliminate gaps that can be exploited by criminals," she claimed.

The action plan includes a proposal to create a coordination and support mechanism for financial intelligence units, which the regulator indicated was important.

During her address, Ms Rowland also underlined the importance of collaboration between public and private agencies in combatting the problem.

"No one agency, public or private, has the information or intelligence necessary to combat money laundering and terrorist financing," she said.

"In order to be effective, public and private organisations alike require a legislative basis providing powers and necessary gateways to facilitate the sharing and use of intelligence and information."

Addressing the same conference, Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) chief executive, Brian Hayes, said the speed and sophistication of financial crime is now on such a scale that rapid information sharing and closer collaboration between banks, tech, policy-makers and Gardai must be part of a whole new public private partnership approach to the problem.

"The growth of online fraud and financial crime throughout Covid is a warning to all of us," he told the audience.

"The criminals have a head start across all activities and banking as an industry needs the support of policymakers in closing loopholes and in committing resources to the prosecution of this crime."

"We also need legal certainty on the question of privacy rights and the sharing of information. The speed with which we can share information as an industry is critical to identifying and stemming the flow of illicit finance and catching the criminals."

He added that BPFI is anxious to progress a new Shared Fraud Database, an anti-money laundering Autility similar to that used in the Netherlands which can help detect people smuggling operations by bogus bank transfers.

"These initiatives need regulatory and public policy buy-in and also need EU legislative support," he said.