ICSA Ireland

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New anti-money laundering directive adopted

12 June 2015

On 20 May 2015, the European Parliament voted on and adopted the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AML IV).

The amendments

AML IV implements recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is considered a global reference for rules against money laundering and terrorist financing. On some issues, AML IV expands on the FATF's requirements and provides for additional safeguards.

The key amendments that AML IV makes to the existing regime are as follows:

  • The extension of the Directive’s scope – AML IV introduces requirements for a greater number of traders
  • The application of a risk-based approach – member states will be required to assess and identify risks and use those assessments to, where necessary, identify areas where an entity should apply enhanced AML measures
  • Stricter rules on customer due diligence – obliged entities such as banks are required to take enhanced measures where the risks are greater, and can take simplified measures where risks are smaller

Beneficial ownership

AML IV introduces provisions relating to the beneficial owners of companies. Information on beneficial ownership will be stored in a central register which will be accessible to competent authorities, financial intelligence units and obliged entities such as banks. Access will also be given to persons who can demonstrate a legitimate interest in the stored information.

Politically exposed persons

AML IV clarifies the rules on politically-exposed persons, i.e. people at a higher than usual risk of corruption due to the political positions they hold, such as heads of state, members of government, supreme court judges, and members of parliament, as well as their family members.

Where there are high-risk business relationships with such persons, additional measures should be put in place to establish the source of wealth and source of funds involved.


AML IV provides for a maximum fine of at least twice the amount of the benefit derived from the breach or at least €1 million.

For breaches involving credit or financial institutions, it provides for a maximum fine of at least:

  • €5 million or 10% of the total annual turnover in the case of a legal person; or
  • €5 million in the case of a natural person.

Next steps

Following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, member states will have two years to transpose the anti-money laundering directive into their national laws.