The Commission proposes new measure to combat money laundering

The European Commission presented two proposals to reinforce the EU's existing rules on anti-money laundering and fund transfers. The two proposals foresee a reinforcement of the sanctioning powers of the competent authorities by introducing for instance a set of minimum principle-based rules to strengthen administrative sanctions and a requirement for them to coordinate actions when dealing with cross-border cases.

The European Commission presented two proposals which complements other actions taken or planned by the Commission in respect of fight against crime, corruption and tax evasion. In particular, they are a directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing, and a regulation on information accompanying transfers of funds to secure "due traceability" of these transfers. According to a Commission's report published in April 2012, the current Anti-Money Laundering Directive works well but needs to be slightly adapted to new threats.

The new Directive proposed improves clarity and consistency of the rules across the Member States, according to the Commission. The proposal provides a clear mechanism for identification of beneficial owners. In addition, companies will be required to maintain records as to the identity of those who stand behind the company in reality. In addition, the Directive improves clarity and transparency of the rules on customer due diligence in order to have in place adequate controls and procedures, which ensure a better knowledge of customers and a better understanding of the nature of their business. In particular, it is important to make sure that simplified procedures are not wrongly perceived as full exemptions from customer due diligence.

Among other measures, the Directive expands the provisions dealing with politically exposed persons, (i.e. people who may represent higher risk by virtue of the political positions they hold) to now also include “domestic” (those residing in EU Member States) (in addition to 'foreign') politically exposed persons and those in international organisations. This includes among others head of states, members of government, members of parliaments, judges of supreme courts.