New Anti-Money Laundering Rules

On 27 January MEPs in a joint meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Civil Liberties Committees of the European Parliament voted in favour of the final compromise text of the fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). The agreement made after trialogue negotiations between the Parliament, European Council and European Commission needs to be endorsed by the full Parliament (probably in March or April). Member States will then have two years within which to transpose the new directive into their national laws.

The fourth AMLD will oblige Member States for the first time to keep central registers of information on the ultimate “beneficial” owners of corporate and other legal entities and trusts. These central registers were not in the initial proposal by the European Commission but were included by MEPs in negotiations. These central registers will be accessible to the authorities and their financial intelligence units, to obliged entities (which include estate agents) and in certain circumstances to the public. To access a register a person will have to demonstrate a “legitimate interest” in suspected money laundering and related offences.

The new directive also clarifies the rules on “politically-exposed persons”. These are people considered to be at a higher than usual risk of corruption due to the political positions they hold, e.g. heads of state, members of government, supreme court judges, members of parliament, as well as their family members. At the same time agreement was reached by MEPs on the accompanying transfer of funds regulation which aims to improve the traceability of payers and payees and their assets.

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