Com­mis­sion refers Greece, Ire­land and Ro­ma­nia to the Court of Jus­tice for not im­ple­ment­ing anti-money laun­der­ing rules

On 19 July, the Com­mis­sion re­ferred Greece and Ro­ma­nia to the Court of Jus­tice of the EU for fail­ing to im­ple­ment the 4th Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive into their na­tional law.

The Malta Business Weekly - - LEADER / NEWS -

Ire­land im­ple­mented only a very lim­ited part of the rules and is there­fore also re­ferred to the Court of Jus­tice. The Com­mis­sion pro­posed that the Court charges a lump sum and daily penal­ties un­til the three coun­tries take the nec­es­sary ac­tion.

Věra Jourová, Com­mis­sioner for Jus­tice, Con­sumers and Gen­der Equal­ity said: “Money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing af­fect the EU as a whole. We can­not af­ford to let any EU coun­try be the weak­est link. Money laun­dered in one coun­try can and of­ten will sup­port crime in an­other coun­try. This is why we re­quire that all Mem­ber States take the nec­es­sary steps to fight money laun­der­ing, and thereby also dry up crim­i­nal and ter­ror­ist funds. We will con­tinue to fol­low im­ple­men­ta­tion of these EU rules by Mem­ber States very closely and as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity.”

The Mem­ber States had un­til 26 June 2017 to trans­pose the 4th Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive into their na­tional leg­is­la­tion. These rules re­in­force the pre­vi­ously ex­ist­ing rules by: • strength­en­ing the risk as­sess­ment obli­ga­tion for banks, lawyers, and ac­coun­tants; • set­ting clear trans­parency re­quire­ments about ben­e­fi­cial own­er­ship for com­pa­nies; • fa­cil­i­tat­ing co­op­er­a­tion and ex­change of in­for­ma­tion be­tween Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Units from dif­fer­ent Mem­ber States to iden­tify and fol­low sus­pi­cious trans­fers of money to pre­vent and de­tect money laun­der­ing or ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing;

• es­tab­lish­ing a co­her­ent pol­icy to­wards non-EU coun­tries that have de­fi­cient anti-money laun­der­ing and counter-ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing rules; • re­in­forc­ing the sanc­tion­ing pow­ers of com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ties.

Mean­while, in the wake of the Panama Pa­pers rev­e­la­tions and the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Europe, the Com­mis­sion pro­posed a 5th Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive to fur­ther step up the fight against money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing. These new rules aim at en­sur­ing a high level of safe­guards for fi­nan­cial flows from high-risk third coun­tries, en­hanc­ing the ac­cess of Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Units to in­for­ma­tion, cre­at­ing cen­tralised bank ac­count reg­is­ters, and tack­ling ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing risks linked to vir­tual cur­ren­cies and pre-paid cards. These new rules en­tered into force on 9 July 2018 fol­low­ing its pub­li­ca­tion in the EU’s Of­fi­cial Jour­nal and Mem­ber States will have to trans­pose the 5thAnti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive into na­tional leg­is­la­tion by 10 Jan­uary 2020.

Next steps

Re­gard­ing the 4th Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive the Com­mis­sion has opened so far in­fringe­ment pro­ce­dures for non­com­mu­ni­ca­tion of trans­po­si­tion mea­sures against 20 Mem­ber States: 3 are cur­rently at the stage of court re­fer­rals, 9 at the stage of rea­soned opin­ions, and 8 at the stage of Let­ters of For­mal No­tice (see 8 pre­vi­ous rea­soned opin­ions sent in De­cem­ber 2017, an ad­di­tional 2 in March 2018).

In the mean­time, a ma­jor­ity of Mem­ber States have adopted the rel­e­vant laws. The Com­mis­sion is now care­fully analysing whether these laws com­pletely trans­pose the pro­vi­sions of the 4th An­tiMoney Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive be­fore de­cid­ing on whether clos­ing or pro­ceed­ing with fur­ther in­fringe­ments against Mem­ber States.

Back­ground

In July 2017 the Com­mis­sion opened in­fringe­ment pro­ceed­ings for non-com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the trans­po­si­tion mea­sures and sent a let­ter of for­mal no­tice to six­teen Mem­ber States, who had ei­ther not no­ti­fied any mea­sures (Bul­garia, Cyprus, Es­to­nia, Greece, Fin­land, Hun­gary, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, the Nether­lands, Poland, Por­tu­gal, Ro­ma­nia) or whose mea­sure were not sat­is­fac­tory (Ire­land, Lithua­nia, Slo­vakia).

In Novem­ber 2017 (Bel­gium and Spain) and Jan­uary 2018 (Aus­tria and France), the Com­mis­sion opened in­fringe­ment pro­ceed­ings for non-com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the trans­po­si­tion mea­sures as the mea­sures no­ti­fied by these Mem­ber States rep­re­sented only a par­tial trans­po­si­tion.

Last De­cem­ber 2017- 8 Mem­ber States (Bul­garia, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, the Nether­lands, Poland and Ro­ma­nia) had not yet no­ti­fied any trans­po­si­tion mea­sure. The Com­mis­sion there­fore sent them a rea­soned opin­ion.

In March 2018 the Com­mis­sion also sent a rea­soned opin­ion to Slo­vakia and Ire­land who - de­spite hav­ing no­ti­fied to the Com­mis­sion a par­tial trans­po­si­tion - had not yet trans­posed the main obli­ga­tions of the 4th An­timoney laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive into their na­tional law.

Fol­low­ing these in­fringe­ment steps, a ma­jor­ity of Mem­ber States have adopted the rel­e­vant laws. The Com­mis­sion is now care­fully analysing whether these laws com­pletely im­ple­ment the pro­vi­sions of the 4th Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive be­fore de­cid­ing on whether clos­ing these in­fringe­ments or fur­ther pro­ceed­ing with in­fringe­ments against Mem­ber States.

On 19 July, the Com­mis­sion has also sent rea­soned opin­ions to Latvia and Spain and an ad­di­tional rea­soned opin­ion to Malta for fail­ing to trans­pose the 4th Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive into na­tional law as the as­sess­ment of the trans­po­si­tion laws no­ti­fied by these coun­tries has showed that the trans­po­si­tion is not com­plete.

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