EU Adopts New Rules On Money Laundering

The Council of the European Union adopted a directive strengthening EU rules to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. This is the follow-up work of the political agreement reached last December by the Presidency and the European Parliament.

Balance between Security and Economic Freedom

The need to adapt to new threats and to amend Directive (EU) 2015/849 accordingly after a spate of terrorist attacks in Europe were underscored by the Commission Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing. Amending the directive 2015/849, the directive includes some new rules further removing the means available to terrorists. "These new rules enable us to disrupt criminal networks without compromising fundamental rights and economic freedoms," said Vladislav Goranov, Minister for Finance of Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council presidency.

Main Changes to Directive 2015/849

By amending Directive 2015/849, the revised transparency rules are expected to shed light on the large-scale concealment of funds without hindering the normal functioning of financial markets and payment systems. Main revamps to the Directive includes:

  • Broadening access to information on beneficial ownership, improving transparency in the ownership of companies and trusts;
  • Addressing risks linked to prepaid cards and virtual currencies. The threshold for identifying the holders of prepaid cards is lowered from €250 to €50, and customer verification requirements are extended.
  • Improving cooperation between financial intelligence units. FIUs will have access to information in centralised bank and payment account registers, enabling them to identify account holders;
  • Improved checks on transactions involving high-risk third countries.

Sources: EuropaNu

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