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Key elements of the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive

Stronger rules to respond to new threats shall apply from 26 June 2017

By Barbara Bandiera
Studio Legale RCC
Milan, Italy


The Directive (EU) 2015/849, the so-called Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Fourth AMLD), was adopted to update and improve the Directive 2005/60/EC, the so-called Third EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, with the aim of further strengthening the EU’s defences against money laundering and terrorist financing and of ensuring the soundness, integrity and stability of the financial system. The main objectives of the Fourth AMLD are:

- to safeguard the interests of society from criminality and terrorist acts;

- to contribute to financial stability by protecting the soundness, proper functioning and integrity of the financial system;

- to safeguard the economic prosperity of the European Union by ensuring an efficient business environment, and

- to strengthen the internal market by reducing complexity across borders.


The Fourth AMLD, applicable, among others, to independent legal professionals:

- fully takes into account the Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the world anti-money laundering body, adopted on 16 February 2012. The FATF Recommendations set a comprehensive and consistent framework of measures which countries should implement in order to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Countries have diverse legal, administrative and operational frameworks and different financial systems, and so cannot all take identical measures to counter these threats. The FATF Recommendations, therefore, set an international standard, which countries should implement through measures adapted to their particular circumstances;

- applies a risk-based approach to better target risks;

- lays down rules for customer identification, record keeping and reporting of suspicious transactions. In particular, with regard to customer due diligence, the Fourth AMLD establishes that beneficial ownership information on corporate and other legal entities has to be held in a central register in each EU Member State;

- foresees a reinforcement of the sanctioning powers of the competent authorities;

- strengthens the cooperation between different national Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) whose tasks are to receive, analyse and disseminate to competent authorities reports about suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing. With reference to the FIUs, the G7 (Finance Ministers and Central Banks’ Governors Meeting, Bari, Italy, May 12-13, 2017) highlighted that the FIUs will continue to work together, share best practices and identify areas to improve in international cooperation and implementation of international standards, including possible improvements in domestic regulations and practices, in the context of the different national frameworks.


Barbara Bandiera

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