Enhanced Anti-Money Laundering Rules
11 Mar 2014
Euro & Finance
The European Parliament (EP) has adopted new rules to fight money laundering. The main purpose of the new Anti-Money Laundering Directive is to guard the stability of the financial system from money laundering and terrorist financing. It provides authorities with new tools to prevent criminals from legalising illicit proceeds.
The EP has introduced several changes in the European Commission's proposal, a key change being the introduction of an EU-wide register of beneficial ownership. The register would make it possible for police and tax authorities to uncover who is actually the true beneficiary of any EU legal entity, making life much more difficult for criminals.
"For years, criminals in Europe have used the anonymity of offshore companies and accounts to obscure their financial dealings. Creating an EU-wide register of beneficial ownership will help to lift the veil of secrecy of offshore accounts and greatly aid the fight against money laundering and blatant tax evasion", highlighted the European Parliament Rapporteur on this issue Krišjānis Kariņš MEP.
Illegally-laundered money accounts for as much as 5% of the world's GDP and is a challenge both for the competitiveness of the legal sector as well as for government coffers. The 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive is aimed at limiting the scope of criminal and terrorist activity in Europe. Estimates suggest that money laundering accounts for as much as 2.7% of the world’s economic activity (GDP) - or $1.6 trillion in 2009. This is a challenge for both the competitiveness of legal business, as well as for government coffers.
A key change supported by the EPP Group and the other political groups is the creation of an EU-wide register of beneficial ownership which is necessary to stop criminals from hiding behind company structures and trusts. The register would make it possible for police and tax authorities to uncover who is actually the true beneficiary of any EU legal entity, making life much more difficult for criminals.
Additional changes include exemptions for certain gambling services and products (e.g. state lotteries), subject to approval by the European Commission, certain exemptions for e-money products, the introduction of a 'white list' - jurisdictions with high anti-money laundering standards, the introduction of a 'politically-exposed persons' list – a list of high-ranking government officials, Members of Parliament and others in similar positions.
The EP adopted the changes to the Directive at first reading. It is awaiting the Council's position.
"The EP has taken a tough stance against secrecy that aids criminals in hiding their proceeds. History repeatedly shows that criminals, corrupt politicians and dictators have legalised their illicit proceeds in the European Union. We should put an end to this. Today is a good day for law-abiding citizens, but a lousy day for criminals", concluded Krišjānis Kariņš MEP.
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 274 Members from 27 Member States.
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