On 5 July 2016 the Commission adopted a proposal to amend the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (4AMLD). This new proposal is one of the first action points in the Commission’s Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing. Its aim is to complement the existing AML framework by setting out further measures to ensure increased transparency of financial transactions and corporate entities.

The amendments proposed by the Commission include widening customer verification requirements applicable to prepaid instruments by lowering thresholds for identification from €250 to €150. It also proposed bringing virtual currency exchange platforms within the scope of the 4AMLD since there are no EU-level regulations in that field. Therefore, the exchange platforms will be likely to have to comply with stricter due diligence obligations when exchanging virtual currencies for real currencies.

Most importantly, however, the Commission also introduced several crucial amendments which concern high risk third country jurisdictions, access to information on payment accounts, enhanced access to beneficial ownership information and better standards for cooperation between the Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).

Concerning beneficial ownership, the Commission proposes to provide public access to beneficial ownership information in relation to companies and those trusts that engage in economic activities with a view to making a profit. The proposal also calls for better cooperation between Member States’ authorities which are responsible for their respective registers.

Most recently, Statewatch leaked the draft of the Commission’s delegated regulation on identifying high risk countries and the annex identifying countries with deficient anti-money laundering and terrorist financing legislation.

In tandem with its proposed revisions to 4AMLD, the Commission published a Communication which sets out plans to make beneficial ownership information available to all Member State tax authorities.

The 4AMLD is due to be transposed into national law by June 2017, although the Commission has called on Member States to transpose it before  the end of 2016.