The Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court has upheld a fine of €1.7m imposed by the Spanish Council of Ministers on Jyske Bank Gibraltar Limited (Jyske). The fine was in relation to the bank's refusal to disclose the identity of its customers in Spain, after a request from the Spanish Executive Service for the Prevention of Money Laundering (SEPBLAC). SEPBLAC are the Spanish financial information unit (FIU).
Jyske is a credit institution registered in Gibraltar which carries out banking activities in Spain. Jyske was ordered to pay a fine for refusing to reveal, upon request, information relating to certain suspicious transactions to the SEPBLAC. Jyske argued that under Article 22 of the Third Money Laundering Directive, it was only obliged to comply with such a request if it came from the FIU for the territory in which it is established, namely Gibraltar.
The Spanish Supreme Court referred the matter to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling on whether its national legislation complies with EU law in that it requires credit institutions carrying on their activities under the freedom to provide services in Spain, to communicate the information required for the purposes of combating financial crime directly to the national FIU (SEPBLAC).
The Advocte General proposed that the ECJ should find that Article 22 must be interpreted as not precluding any national legislation that requires the forwarding of information required for the purposes of combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism directly to the FIU of that state, where the institutions carry on their activities in that state under the freedom to provide services. In any event, Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) must be interpreted as not precluding such legislation where the legislation is justified in the public interest, proportionate, and applied in a non-discriminatory manner. The Spanish legislation was found to comply with all of these requirements and the fine is to be upheld.
Please click here to read the Spanish Supreme Court's judgement (NB: Spanish language).