Compliance & White Collar Crime

CEE: New Anti-Money Laundering Directive in the European Union

On May 20th 2015, after two years of negotiations, the European Parliament passed the fourth anti-money laundering directive, Directive no. 2015849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing goals (“Directive”). The Directive ties the European regulatory framework more closely to established international standards, especially those recommended by the Financial Action Task Force1 (“FATF”) of 2012, in terms of enforcing stronger policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. European member states were required to implement its provisions into domestic law by 26 June 2017.

Anti-money laundering and terrorist financing activities guideline

According to the Directive, money laundering is: (i) the transfer of property known to have derived from criminal activity; (ii) the concealment of the true nature of property known to have derived from criminal activity; (iii) the acquisition, possession or use of property known to have derived from such criminal activity, or (iv) any participation in any activity listed above.

The Directive focuses on two core elements, the “know your customer” policy and a “risk based approach”, applicable to entities identified by the Directive, including credit and financial institutions, as well as natural and legal persons in their professional capacity as tax advisors, notaries, gambling services, legal consultancies, and real estate agents (“Specified Entities”). The Directive’s list includes also every business trading in goods and receiving cash payments of EUR 10,000 or more, regardless whether payment is made in a single, or via a series of linked, transactions. Hence the Directive allows EU member states to extend its scope to other subjects that could be made the object of money laundering.

In order to ensure that these anti-money laundering principles are enforced, the Directive provides for the Specified Entities to apply either simplified or enhanced customer due diligence measures on their own, based on specific criteria, such as the scope of business or the duration of the business activity. While the simplified customer due diligence measures involve standard client identification, focusing on the identity of the beneficial owner (based on reliable documentation issued by an independent source) and as assessment and monitoring of the purposes of the business relationship, should there be any reason to suspect that a certain transaction serves as money laundering or terrorism financing, enhanced measures set up a reporting obligation to the anti-money laundering authorities.

All these elements are gathered to complete a final evaluation of the risk, ensuring that the Specified Entities check every single transaction and evaluate every aspect of a client in a particular case, with the overarching goal of preventing automatic and simplistic risk evaluation done without real diligence. Furthermore, the Specified Entities should also install internal controls to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

Interconnected information registers in the near future

According to article 30 of the Directive all Specified Entities are required to provide and store accurate information in respect of their beneficial ownership, including the details of the beneficial interests held, in a national centralised register. This data has to be made available to competent authorities, Financial Intelligence Units (“FUIs”), obliged entities and to others, such as investigative journalists, who can demonstrate a “legitimate interest” in gaining access to the information, in a timely manner.

The Directive also sets up a legal framework for a future interconnection of these registers via the European central platform previously established by Article 4a (1) of Directive 2009/101/EC.

Another requirement listed under article 42 of the Directive provides that the Specified Entities must have systems in place enabling them to respond fully and promptly to inquiries from appropriate financial authorities as to whether they are maintaining, or have maintained during a five-year period prior to that inquiry, a business relationship with specified persons, and on the nature of that relationship. The systems must enable them to respond through secure channels and in a manner that ensures full confidentiality.

Sanctions

New and drastic sanctions implemented by the Directive apply in cases of serious and repeated breach of the aforementioned duties by Specified Entities. Member states must ensure that their regulations provide for sanctions ranging from administrative measures, such as loss of licenses, to fines of up to EUR 5 million or 10 % of the total annual turnover according to the latest available accounts.

Conclusions

The new measures introduced by the Directive aim to protect each jurisdiction’s financial systems and to strengthen confidence in credit and financial institutions. However, member states should consider serious data protection provisions when drafting domestic regulations to ensure that the anti-money laundering measures do not affect each individual’s right to privacy.

The new measures introduced by the Directive aim to protect each jurisdiction's financial systems and to strengthen confidence in credit and financial institutions. However, member states should consider serious data protection provisions when drafting domestic regulations to ensure that the anti-money laundering measures do not affect each individual’s right to privacy.

1
The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) is an intergovernmental organisation, founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

CEE: O noua directiva impotriva spalarii banilor mentine stabilitatea in Uniunea Europeana

In data de 20 mai 2015, dupa doi ani de negocieri, Parlamentul European a aprobat cea de-a patra directiva pentru combaterea spalarii de bani (Directiva nr. 2015849 privind prevenirea utilizarii sistemului financiar in scopul spalarii banilor sau finantarii terorismului — “Directiva”). Directiva aduce cadrul de reglementare european mai aproape de standardele internationale, in special cele recomandate in 2012 de Financial Action Task Force1 (“FATF”), in ceea ce priveste aplicarea unor politici mai puternice impotriva spalarii de bani si a finantarii terorismului. Statele membre ale Uniunii Europene trebuie sa implementeze aceasta directiva in legislatiile locale pana la data de 26 iunie 2017.

Instructiuni impotriva actiunilor de spalare a banilor si a finantarii terorismului

Potrivit Directivei, spalarea de bani este: (i) schimbul sau transferul de bunuri, cunoscand ca bunurile provin dintr-o activitate infractionala; (ii) ascunderea adevaratei naturi a bunului despre care se stie ca provine dintr-o activitate infractionala; (iii) dobandirea, detinerea sau utilizarea de bunuri despre care se stie ca provin dintr-o activitate infractionala, sau (iv) participarea la oricare dintre activitatile mentionate mai sus.

Directiva se concentreaza pe doua elemente centrale, politica de ”cunoastere a clientului” si o ”abordare bazata pe risc”, aplicabila entitatilor identificate de Directiva, inclusiv institutiile financiare si de credit, precum si persoane fizice si juridice care furnizeaza servicii de consultanta fiscala, notariat, jocuri de noroc, consultanta juridica si intermediere imobiliara (“Entitati specificate”). Lista Directivei include de asemenea orice tranzactie cu bunuri sau transfer de bani cu valori de peste 100.000 EURO, indiferent daca plata a fost facuta intr-o singura transa sau intr-o serie de tranzactii legate. Astfel, Directiva la permite statelor membre UE sa extinda scopul legislatiei pentru a include si alte subiecte care ar putea face obiectul spalarii de bani.

Pentru a asigura ca sunt aplicate principiile impotriva spalarii de bani, Directiva prevede masuri simplificate sau extinse de precautie pentru Entitatile Specificate, pe care acestea le aplica pe cont propriu, in baza unor criterii cum ar fi scopul afacerii sau durata activitatii. Procedura simplificata cu masuri de precautie legate de client implica identificarea standard a clientului, cu accent pus pe identitatea beneficiarului real (in baza unor documente credibile emise de o sursa independenta) precum si evaluarea si monitorizarea scopurilor relatiei de afaceri, in cazul in care exista suspiciuni ca tranzactia serveste ca mecanism de spalare a banilor sau finantare a terorismului. Masurile extinse stabilesc o obligatie de raportare la autoritatile anti-spalare de bani.

Toate aceste elemente sunt cumulate pentru a incheia o evaluare finala a riscului, asigurand ca Entitatile Specificate verifica fiecare tranzactie si evalueaza fiecare aspect al unui client intr-un caz anume, cu scopul general de a preveni evaluarea automata si simplista a riscurilor fara masuri reale de precautie. In plus, Entitatile Specificate ar trebui sa instaleze controale interne pentru a impiedica spalarea de bani si finantarea terorismului.

Registre interconectate de informatii in viitorul apropiat

Tuturor Entitatilor Specificate li se cere (Articolul 30) sa furnizeze si sa stocheze informatii exacte legate de beneficiarii reali, inclusiv detalii legate de interesele beneficiarului, intr-un registru national centralizat. Aceste date trebuie sa le fie disponibile din timp autoritatilor competente, Unitatilor de Informatii Financiare precum si altor parti interesate cum ar fi jurnalistii de investigatii financiare, care demonstreaza un ”interes legitim” in accesul la informatii.

Directiva stabileste de asemenea un cadru juridic pentru interconectarea viitoare a acestor registre printr-o platforma Europeana centrala, stabilita anterior in legislatia europeana (Articolul 4a (1) al Directivei 2009/101/EC).

O alta cerinta (Articolul 42) precizeaza ca Entitatile Specficate trebuie sa aiba puse la punct sisteme care sa le permita un raspuns complet si prompt atunci cand sunt intrebate, in anchete ale autoritatilor financiare, daca mentin sau au mentinut in ultimii cinci ani o relatie de afaceri cu anumite persoane, precum si natura acestei relatii. Sistemele trebuie sa permita un raspuns prin canale securizate, care sa asigure confidentialitate deplina.

Sanctiuni

In cazul unor incalcari grave si repetate ale obligatiilor revenite Entitatilor Specificate se instituie noi sanctiuni mult mai drastice, implementate de Directiva. Statele membre trebuie sa se asigure ca reglementarile lor permit sanctiuni de la masuri administrative, cum ar fi pierderea licentei, pana la amenzi de maxim 5 milioane de euro sau 10% din cifra anuala de afaceri, calculata pe cele mai recente rapoarte.

Concluzie

Noile masuri introduse de Directiva au scopul de a proteja sistemele financiare ale fiecarei jurisdictii si de a spori increderea in institutiile financiare si de credit. Cu toate acestea, statele membre ar trebui sa ia in calcul masuri serioase de protectie a datelor atunci cand redacteaza reglementarile locale, pentru a se asigura ca masurile anti-spalare de bani nu afecteaza confidentialitatea datelor persoanele ale cetatenilor din spatiul european.

Noile masuri introduse de Directiva au scopul de a proteja sistemele financiare ale fiecarei jurisdictii si de a spori increderea in institutiile financiare si de credit. Cu toate acestea, statele membre ar trebui sa ia in calcul masuri serioase de protectie a datelor atunci cand redacteaza reglementarile locale, pentru a se asigura ca masurile anti-spalare de bani nu afecteaza dreptul fiecarui individ la intimitate.

1
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) este o organizatie interguvernamentala, fondata in 1989 la initiativa grupului G7 pentru a dezvolta politici de combatere a spalarii de bani si finantarii terorismului.