EU agrees tougher anti-money laundering rules, limits cash payments

STRASBOURG, France, Jan 18: Negotiators from the European Parliament and the 27 EU member states on Thursday agreed to tougher rules to counter money laundering in the European Union, reported dpa news. 

“This week’s agreements are an important milestone in the fight against dirty money in the EU,” EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuiness said in a statement following the agreement in Strasbourg. 

Financial investigators will have increased powers of inspection in suspected money laundering and terrorist financing cases as well as a wider scope to suspend suspicious transactions and accounts. 

Big cash payments are to be subject to an EU-wide limit of €10,000 (US$10,900). Individual EU countries can impose a lower limit if they decide to.

The tougher regulations also harmonize the responsibilities of banks and other financial institutions to comply with anti-money laundering obligations and include stricter sanctions. 

These rules extend to other businesses like asset management services, real estate agencies and casinos. Increased due diligence obligations on customers will also apply to cryptocurrency providers. 

Dealers in luxury goods like art dealers and jewellers are also included. Professional football clubs and agents are also listed, but can be removed if an EU member states believes them to be a low risk.  

The European Parliament and 27 EU member states must formally adopt the new regulations. According to the EU legislature, the new rules will apply three years after entering into force. 

A new EU agency to fight money laundering in the bloc is also under development with Germany, Ireland and Italy and others bidding to host the new authority.