New EU AML/CTF rules proposed by the European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has today (20 July 2021) put forward four legislative proposals and new measures in the area of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), intended to further strengthen the fight against what it terms ‘dirty money’.

It will be interesting to see what (if any) consequences this will have in due course insofar as UK AML/CTF regulations are concerned.

Quoting the EC, the four legislative proposals are:

  1. Regulation establishing an EU AML/CFT Authority in the form of a decentralised EU regulatory agency;
  2. new Regulation on AML/CFT, containing directly applicable AML/CFT rules, including a revised EU list of entities subject to AML/CFT rules (known as Obliged Entities);
  3. Directive on AML/CFT, replacing the existing EU AML/CFT Directive (Directive 2015/849 as amended) and containing provisions not appropriate for a Regulation and requiring national transposition, such as rules concerning national supervisors and Financial Intelligence Units in Member States;
  4. A recast of the 2015 Regulation on Transfers of Funds (Regulation 2015/847).

The proposed new measures arising from the above include:

  • EU AML Authority (AMLA) – a new EU Authority will be the central authority:
    • coordinating national supervisors, so the private sector correctly and consistently applies EU rules
    • enhancing cooperation among Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), so as to improve their analytical capacity around illicit flows and make financial intelligence a key source for law enforcement agencies.
  • EU single rulebook for AML/CFT – more detailed, clearer, and directly applicable rules, which will apply more consistently and will be better enforced throughout the EU
  • EU AML/CFT rules will apply fully to crypto-currencies – all Crypto Asset Service Providers will have to apply EU rules, to stop crypto-currencies being using to launder money
  • EU citizens – they can trust in more consistent, robust EU rules to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. They can also rely on stronger action against criminal activity, as it will no longer be possible to exploit diverging national approaches or avoid detection of illicit flows of money
  • Entities subject to EU AML/CFT rules – more harmonised EU rules mean a more level playing field and reduced compliance costs.
  • National supervisors – will have their powers clarified. Cooperation and exchange of information across the EU will be strengthened. AMLA will play a key role in supporting the work of national supervisors.
  • Member State Financial Intelligence Units – will have stronger and clearer powers, underpinned by a harmonised approach for reporting suspicious transactions or activities. AMLA will support communication and cooperation between FIUs.

More information is available on the European Commission website via the following links:

The above proposals have been welcomed by the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) who have issued a press release saying:

EGBA will introduce new sector-specific guidelines to help Europe’s online gambling companies apply the EU’s anti-money laundering rulebook.

BRUSSELS, TODAY – The European Union’s anti-money laundering rules are set to be updated and reinforced after the European Commission published proposals for two anti-money laundering (AML) Regulations and a revision of the current EU AML Directive[1] today. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the proposals and reaffirms its commitment to work with all relevant regulatory bodies, including the European Commission, to combat money laundering in the EU.

The Commission’s proposals follow concern and criticism in recent years that some EU member states have not sufficiently implemented and enforced the EU’s current AML rulebook. While the proposed Regulations are primarily aimed at financial services, some of the horizontal changes proposed are also expected to affect Europe’s online gambling sector, including rules on beneficial ownership, customer due diligence and the establishment of a new EU AML authority.

The legislative package will now go through the EU legislative process and will be sent to the European Parliament and Council for discussion and ultimately approval, which might take upwards of 18 months. Once approved, the Regulations will immediately enter into force in all EU member states, the Directive will need to be transposed into national regulation by EU member states.

EGBA will analyse the future implications of the proposed changes for the AML compliance requirements of Europe’s online gambling sector. To ensure the best possible application of the EU’s AML rulebook, EGBA is preparing a set of sector-specific guidelines for Europe’s online gambling companies. The guidelines will be published later in 2021.

“We welcome the efforts of the European Commission to continuously improve the EU framework for combatting money-laundering. EGBA members already apply the highest regulatory standards in AML compliance and are fully committed to tackling money laundering in the online gambling sector. To support this, we are working closely with our members to develop EU-wide, sector-specific guidelines to help Europe’s online gambling companies comply with the increasingly complex AML rules in the EU.” – Ekaterina Hartmann, Director.

[1] Directive (EU) 2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, and amending Directives 2009/138/EC and 2013/36/EU.