co-rapporteur for the European People’s Party on the fourth anti-money laundering directive The world is constantly changing, and the criminal world with it. This requires constant upgrades to the anti- money laundering legal framework in the European Union.
The new anti-money laundering directive and regulation bring new challenges to businesses. Of course, new obligations and stricter rules tend to burden companies, but on the other hand they help to prevent or at least minimise the risks of illicit proceeds being channelled through them. Customers and the market benefit as a result. We as legislators must strive to reduce the burden on businesses, minimise the risks of money laundering, and improve the Single Market. It is, in essence, a careful balancing act.
First, I consider that knowing the beneficial owner of both a business and a transaction is of the greatest importance. Money launderers usually hide behind long chains of companies or trusts. The obligation for companies to find out the beneficial owners of
their counterparts might be too costly and time consuming. The use of national company registers to find out the beneficial owners would significantly aid the process. These registers should be interconnected (as already set out in the Directive 2012/17/EU), contain up-to-date information, and be accessible by the authorities and obliged businesses.
Second, modern technology provides businesses with very effective tools to verify their customers and minimise the risks of money laundering. The use of such technologies would allow companies to reduce resources used to verify each customer. Now that the online gambling sector is growing, methods, such as e-verification tools should be recognised and promoted by the authorities in order to ensure effective customer due diligence. Customers would also gain from such improvements through greater security.
Third, I believe that the risk based approach would also serve the goal of limiting money laundering. Who else knows what happens in their ‘backyard’ if not the businesses themselves? The same applies to the competent authorities in the member states. The ways and means how to launder money differ widely over various business sectors and member states, therefore limited resources should be used in the most effective way possible.
We need all businesses to remain on an equal footing. Once a tax base is set, all players should adhere to the same rules. This in turn will increase investments and create jobs – the basics needed for the increased well-being of our society. Combating money laundering just makes sense for business.
Krišjanis Karinš is a Latvian member of the European Parliament from the Unity (Vienotiba) party.
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