The European Institutions reached a final agreement on the reform of the EU’s anti-money laundering law end of last year which was formally endorsed by the two responsible Parliament committees on 27 January. Now only some last technical details need to be settled and the final text needs to be officially published. The law will then be directly valid throughout the EU as it is a regulation.
The revised law will bring several enforcements of anti-money laundering policy. The most important is a duty for all member states to set up a register indicating the natural persons owning, controlling or benefitting from a company, foundation or trust. However, the register will not be fully public, as has been called for before and criticized afterwards by civil society during the negotiations: Instead, the information on companies and foundations is only available to persons that can prove a “legitimate interest”. And, the information on trusts will be only available to authorities. Finally, there is also the risk that the coverage of trusts is not sufficient due to a clause that there needs to “generate a tax consequence”. This loophole was even officially criticized by Austria.
The new law will also bring various other improvements such as a better sanctioning, the better tracing of transfers of funds, and the stricter dealing with “Politically Exposed Persons”, i.e. high ranking politicians or other powerful people committing a money laundering crime. However, there are also other shortcomings, for example sanctions will not be regularly published.