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Barely a year following the implementation of the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the European Parliament has adopted a new directive which aims to add further layers to the European anti-money laundering framework. The 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (“5AMLD”) was adopted on the 19th of April 2018, and should be fully implemented into national law by the various Member States from eighteen months to the date in which it is published in the Official Journal.

The 5AMLD contains several key amendments to the existing directives, mainly:

1. Register of Beneficial Owners
The 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive brought about the obligation for EU Member States to obtain and hold accurate and current information on corporate and other legal entities, and to make such information available to persons with a “legitimate interest.” The 5AMLD has gone one step further and stipulates that all EU citizens should have access to such information without any need to demonstrate a legitimate interest in such information. Furthermore, the beneficial ownership register requirements shall also apply to trusts and similar arrangements, subject to the “legitimate interests” requirements. In this regard, Member States are also afforded the discretion to allow broader access to beneficial ownership information on trusts.

2. Virtual Currencies
The 5AMLD provides a uniform definition of “virtual currencies”, to be adopted by all Member States. Furthermore, the new directive shall bring virtual currency platforms and wallet providers within the definition of “obliged entities”, such as financial and credit institutions. Such a classification will impose the obligation on operators of virtual currency platforms and wallet providers to carry out adequate due diligence procedures on their users.

3. Prepaid Cards
In relation to remote payment transactions for general purpose anonymous prepaid cards, it is proposed that the maximum monthly payment transactions are reduced from €250 to €150. Furthermore, the maximum amount of money stored in such cards is not to exceed this threshold.

4. Strengthening Financial Intelligence Analysis Units (“FIUs”)
In order to ensure that FIU’S begin receiving and sharing information in an effective and timely manner, the new directive stipulates that Member States should begin catering for automated information systems, such as central registers.Furthermore, the 5 AMLD provides for the increased powers of FIUs, who shall be granted access to information from entities on their own initiative and without the need of a prior report being made.

5. Enhanced Due Diligence for High Risk Countries
At present, EU Member States are free to determine their own enhanced due diligence procedures in respect of high risk third countries, and this has resulted in several disparities. The 5AMLD aims to create a standardized approach to business relationships involving high risk countries and creates uniform enhanced due diligence measures across the EU. 

This document does not purport to give legal, financial or tax advice. Should you require further information or legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Katya Tua or Dr. Luke Mizzi.