Agreement Reached to Strengthen EU Rules on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

The European Union (EU) Ambassadors have confirmed a political agreement between the presidency and the European Parliament to amend the EU rules to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. This is part of the trilogue process and will now move to the Parliament and Council for adoption.

The draft directive is intended to prevent the use of the financial system for the funding of criminal activities, and to strengthen transparency rules to prevent the large-scale concealment of funds

The main changes to directive 2015/849 include the following:

  1. Enhanced access to beneficial ownership registers, so as to improve transparency in the ownership of companies and trusts. The registers will be interconnected to facilitate cooperation between member states with public access to beneficial ownership information on companies; access to beneficial ownership information on trusts and similar arrangements based on a “legitimate interest”; access upon written request to beneficial ownership information on trusts that own a company that is not incorporated in the EU. Member states can provide for greater access.
  2. The threshold for identifying the holders of prepaid cards is lowered from €250 to €150, and customer verification requirements are extended. Virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers will have to apply customer due diligence controls, ending the anonymity associated with such exchanges;
  3. Improved cooperation between the member states' financial intelligence units. FIUs will have access to information in centralised bank and payment account registers, enabling them to identify account holders;
  4. Improved checks on risky third countries. The Commission has established and regularly updates a harmonised list of non-EU countries with deficiencies in their anti-money laundering prevention regimes. Additional due diligence measures will be required for financial flows from these countries. The list builds on that established at international level by the Financial Action Task Force.

WOCCU has been active in shaping these regulations to ensure that the credit union perspective is adequately considered.  Namely, the following comment letters were filed during the process that served as a precursor to these amendments to the directive:

A copy of the press release, together with supporting documents, can be viewed here.