DOMESTIC

The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020

The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020 came into effect on 21 August 2020. It amends the Companies Act 2014 in order to effect company law changes during the pandemic, which include provisions permitting AGMs to be postponed up to 31 December, facilitating electronic meetings and facilitating the sealing of documents.

FSPO publishes legally binding decisions issued in 2020

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) deals with a large range of complaints related to banking, credit facilities, investments and insurance as well as pensions. On 7 August 2020, it published 180 legally binding decisions issued between January and May 2020. 72 of these decisions were either fully, substantially or partially upheld, while 127 were not upheld. The FSPO also published the fourth volume of its "Digest of Legally Binding Decisions" which contains 20 summaries of decisions made against financial service providers.

Cabinet Approves publication of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2020

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, received approval from Cabinet on 14 August 2020 to publish the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Bill 2020. The bill will transpose the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive into law in Ireland following government delay.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the Minister for Finance to bring forward amendments relating to the regulation of virtual asset service providers (VASPs). The amendments will ensure that the necessary registration and fitness and probity regime, required by 5AMLD for VASPs, become statutory requirements.

The text of the bill will be published in due course.

CBI issues statement on the use of electronic signatures in regulatory documents and forms

The CBI has confirmed that, in the absence of any specific legal provisions to the contrary, regulated firms may use electronic signatures in submitting regulatory documents and forms to the CBI. Signatories will remain accountable in the same way as if the document had been signed in 'wet ink'.

The CBI has also reserved the right to request a 'wet ink' signature where it is deemed appropriate.

This policy will continue to be reviewed as circumstances change.

Where in doubt about the appropriateness of using an electronic signature, firms should seek legal advice. The CBI expects firms to abide by regulatory and statutory requirements and maintain adequate internal systems and controls as the pandemic continues.

CBI publishes a response to public consultation on Union policy for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing

On 28 July 2020, the CBI sent a letter to the European Commission in response to its public consultation on its Action Plan for a comprehensive Union policy on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT). The letter sets out the CBI’s high-level views on the aspects of the action plan that are directly relevant to the CBI’s AML/CFT mandate. The CBI is supportive of steps taken to harmonise and/or strengthen the EU AML/CFT Framework, where evidence suggests there is divergence caused by national transposition and/or differing national approaches to AML/CFT supervision.

EUROPEAN

EBA supports the European Commission’s call for a more efficient and effective framework to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing

The EBA has published its response to the European Commission's public consultation on an AML/CFT action plan. The action plan proposes the establishment of an EU-level supervisor for AML/CFT.

The EBA recommends a harmonisation of the EU's AML framework. The EBA is supportive of the concept of an EU-level AML supervisor, but proposes an ongoing role for national AML supervisors who can share their expertise and resources with the EU supervisor.

Speech - Isabel Schnabel: Going negative: the ECB’s experience

Isabel Schnabel, Member of the Executive Board, addressed the Roundtable on Monetary Policy, Low Interest Rates and Risk Taking at the 35th Congress of the European Economic Association held in Frankfurt am Main on 26 August 2020. Her speech concerned the lowering of interest rates into negative territory within the EU, and the effect that had on the wider economy. Schnabel indicated that the ECB's negative interest rates policy was a success, and supported bank lending. While negative interest rates have impacted banks' profitability and risk taking behaviour, she noted that positive effects have been dominant in the euro area. Finally, Schnabel noted that positive interest rates are likely to return as governments make efforts to stimulate growth in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.