Public list of company owners to fight money laundering

A new EU-wide register with the names of every company's actual owner is set up to control money laundering and tax evasion in offshore companies and accounts.

How did we get here?

The UN estimates that money laundered globally in one year amounts to 2-5% of global GDP. Therefore, the EU decided to fight this trend through this legislation.

Why is this important for me?

These rules aim to minimize the risks when engaging in a new business relationship by identifying the customer on the basis of information and documents obtained from a reliable register. They aim to fight money laundering and terrorist financing by improving the traceability of payers and payees as well as their assets.

What's the content?

Public registers in EU countries will list the beneficial owners of companies, trusts and foundations. This register will then be open and available to everybody. Any taking part in or facilitating activities such as converting property or disguising its true nature, source and ownership, whether in a member state or in the third country, will be regarded as money laundering.

Rules will apply to banks, financial institutions, auditors, lawyers, accountants, notaries, tax advisors, asset managers, trusts and real estate agents with transaction of €15,000 or more. For goods paid for in cash, the threshold would be €7,500 or more. Casinos are included, but other low-risk gambling services may be excluded if member states wish to do so. For casinos transactions of €2,000 or more have to be checked.

Exceptions for 'politically-exposed persons', meaning people at a higher than usual risk of corruption due to the political positions they hold in a member state or in an international organization, are put in place. Heads of state, members of governments, members of parliaments or 'similar legislative bodies' and Supreme Court judges are included.


What's happening with this legislation in the future?

In March 2014 the parliament adopted the legislation during its first reading. In December 2014 a first informal deal was reached between MEPs and Member States. This agreement was formally endorsed by the Member States' ambassadors and the two European Parliament Committees in charge, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. After the final vote in the Parliament the new rules were published in the Official Journal in June 2015.


Related Bills:

Financial Transaction Tax: Making banks pay for the crisis

Too big to fail: Structural Reform of EU Banking Sector

Access to a Basic Bank Account for Everyone

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