Continental European accountants will face the same difficulties experienced by their UK counterparts over the last year, if EU finance ministers adopt new money laundering rules on 7 June in Luxembourg.
European politicians backed EU laws to crackdown on money laundering and terrorist financing on 26 May. The European Parliament’s adoption of the new rules will force accountants and other professions to check the identity of customers, and report suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing.
Charlie McCreevy, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said: ‘the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is a political priority for the EU. Not only will the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing benefit from this, but also the integrity and stability of the financial sector.’
John Davies, head of business law at the ACCA, said that the new rules on money laundering effectively bring the rest of the EU up to the standard imposed in the UK from March 2004, when fresh money laundering legislation was introduced.
Davies said that the EU directive would define the trust and company service providers captured by the regulations, although this will be ‘a headache’ for the UK government to monitor effectively. He said that the move to a more proportionate assessment of clients was a ‘welcome move’.
Last year, a report by Transparency International warned that London was in danger of becoming a haven for money launderers. The anti-corruption campaign group criticised the British government’s failure to regulate operators of shell companies. Official estimates indicate that £25bn is laundered through the UK every year.
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