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EU : Amendments to Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive

A provisional agreement was reached in talks last week between the European Council of Ministers, EU Parliament and EU Commission on proposed amendments to the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. It is intended that the text detailing the amendments will be issued in the coming days and is expect to be adopted by the Committee of the Permanent Representatives.

The proposed changes to the Directive are intended to control and prevent the flow of funds and their use by terrorist groups as part of the wider global efforts to prevent terrorist activity.

 It is proposed that controls will be placed on the use of cash in transactions and prepaid credit card limits will be reduced to €150 for shop retail transactions and €50 for online shopping.

The Directive would be extended to include cryptocurrency platforms, traders and custodian wallet providers are to have the same obligations to identify their clients and complete customer due diligence as banks and other financial institutions. If adopted the national competent authorities for AML would have authority and oversight over these bodies to ensure compliance.

A centralised register of bank accounts is proposed in which EU Member States would record in a central register the identity of individual account holders of both bank and other payment accounts in their jurisdiction.

Existing registers of beneficial ownership of companies and similar entities, including limited liability partnerships, that have been established by EU Member States are currently not open to public inspection. The Directive proposes that the registers should be freely open to the general public.

The Directive also revisits the registers recording the beneficial ownership of trusts which are currently accessible only to certain government agencies but would become accessible to governmental authorities and regulated professionals. Restricted access could in the future be given to those who can ‘demonstrate a legitimate interest’ though the meaning and interpretation of what constitutes a ‘legitimate interest’ has not been consistent across Member States. In instances where a trust is recorded as the beneficial owner of a company a written request is required to be submitted before disclosure is given.


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