EU sets in motion rules to tackle cryptocurrency money laundering
The European Union (EU) has unveiled its plans to apply tighter rules to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing on cryptocurrency exchange platforms.
According to Reuters, the agreement is part of a broader set of measures to tackle financial crimes and tax evasion. EU legislators also backed tighter controls on pre-paid cards, and increased transparency requirements for owners of trusts and companies.
Europe’s justice commissioner Vera Jourova says the agreement “will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing”.
The decision comes as Bitcoin’s price has grown more than 1,500% since the start of 2017, which has not only triggered an investment boom but also concerns over the market bubble bursting.
The measures being placed will put an end to anonymous transactions on cryptocurrency platforms, which according to investigators could have been used for terrorism funding. Meaning now, exchange platforms and digital wallet providers will be required to identify their users.
The new rules must also be adopted by EU countries and European legislators and then turned into national laws within 18 months.
According to the report, it took more than a year of negotiations to agree on the proposals put forward by the European Commission in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.
The talks also took so long due to some EU countries opposing the increased transparency on trusts and companies, stating a fear of a negative impact on their economies. The deal allows authorities and “persons who can demonstrate a legitimate interest” to access data on the beneficial owners of trusts.
The lawmaker in charge of the issue, MEP Judith Sargentini, says Britain, Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Ireland were among those opposing.
Rights group, Transparency International, called the deal “a breakthrough” but was discouraged by the fact that data on trusts’ owners will not be completely public, as it will be for beneficial owners of companies.