The Council of the European Union has adopted new rules aimed at combating money laundering and terrorism financing across the bloc following an agreement with the European Parliament in December.
Dubbed the Fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD), the law makes key changes to the previous directive, such as now giving citizens the right to access information on the beneficial owners of firms which operate in the EU.
There is also an additional measure opening up data on beneficial owners of trusts and similar arrangements to those who can demonstrate a “legitimate interest.”
The directive was adopted at a meeting of the General Affairs Council without discussion.
It also address risks linked to prepaid cards and virtual currencies.
Virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers will, like banks, have to apply customer due diligence controls, including customer verification requirements.
The rules also set a reduction in the threshold for identifying the holders of prepaid cards from currently €250 to €150.
Other measure include:
- tougher criteria for assessing whether non-EU countries pose an increased risk of money laundering and closer scrutiny of transactions involving nationals from risky countries (including the possibility of sanctions);
- protection for whistleblowers who report money laundering (including the right to anonymity);
- an extension of the Directive to cover all forms of tax advisory services, letting agents, art dealers, as well as electronic wallet providers and virtual currency exchange service providers.
Vladislav Goranov, minister for finance of Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council presidency, said: “These new rules respond to the need for increased security in Europe by further removing the means available to terrorists.”
“They will enable us to disrupt criminal networks without compromising fundamental rights and economic freedoms.”
In April, EU parliamentarians (MEPs) endorsed the December agreement, by 574 votes to 13 votes, with 60 abstentions.
Krisjanis Karins MEP and co-rapporteur said the legislation helps address the issue of criminals using anonymity to launder their illicit proceeds by allowing greater access to information about the people behind firms.