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24th June 2015

4th Money Laundering Directive ushers in tougher rules.

New rules agreed by the Council of Europe and endorsed by the European Parliament are being introduced under the fourth anti-money laundering directive.

Central registers in EU countries will list the ultimate owners of companies and other legal entities, including trusts, and will be open to inspection by the authorities and persons having a legitimate interest.

The new anti-money laundering directive is aimed at stepping up the fight against terrorist financing and tax crimes. The new rules will also make it easier to trace transfers of funds. There are reporting obligations on banks, lawyers, real estate agents, casinos and others in respect of suspicious transactions of clients.

The registers will be accessible to the authorities, their financial intelligence units, obliged entities (such as banks, for customer due diligence) and also the public. Public access will be subject to online registration, payment of a fee to cover administration costs and also to demonstrating a legitimate interest in suspected money laundering, such as investigative journalists.

The information accessible will include the beneficial owners name, date of birth, nationality, country of residence and details of ownership. The information on trusts will be accessible only to the authorities and obliged entities. Politically exposed persons will be subject to additional measures to establish their sources of wealth.

Member states have two years during which to implement the rules into their national laws.

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