In December 2017, the Council of European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission reached a political compromise on the revision of the EU anti-money laundering and terrorist financing Directive (“AMLD5”).
Following the final endorsement by the European Parliament and the Council, the revised Directive will boost transparency and prevent the large-scale concealment of funds. Under the new rules, information on beneficial owners of companies will become publicly accessible in interconnected national registers. However, access to information on the ultimate owners of trusts and similar legal arrangements will be granted only if a legitimate interest can be proved. Information on trusts owning a company not incorporated in the EU will be accessible upon a written request. EU Member States can, however, decide to grant even a broader access to the registers. National tax authorities already have direct access to the beneficial ownership information of companies, trusts as well as companies’ customer due diligence records under the rules on administrative cooperation applicable as of 2018.
Another important change concerns the virtual currency exchange platforms and wallet providers, which will be obliged to conduct customer due diligence checks. Anonymity will be also fought as regards the use of prepaid cards, by lowering the threshold for the customer identification from EUR 250 to EUR 150.
Moreover, Member States' Financial Intelligence Units (“FIUs”) will be able to identify account holders by accessing information in centralized bank and payment account registers. Under the Directive, financial flows from risky third countries will also be subject to additional due diligence measures. Problematic countries will be identified by the European Commission on the basis of a list by the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”).