An agreement was reached on 16 December 2014 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, meeting in trilogue, on the proposal for a Fourth Directive on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
During previous meetings, discussions broke down regarding the issue of the register of beneficial owners of companies and other legal entities and trusts and on defining politically exposed persons (PEPs). An agreement was finally reached on these two aspects based on a text proposed by the Council that is available at the following address: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-16221-2014-INIT/en/pdf .
Specifically, the fourth anti-money laundering directive will require the Member States to hold central registers containing information linked to the final beneficial owners of companies and other legal entities and trusts. These central registers, which had not been envisaged in the European Commission’s initial proposal but were introduced by the European Parliament, will be accessible to the competent authorities and their financial intelligence units (without any restrictions), to “entities subject to obligations” (such as notaries and banks which apply “customer due diligence” measures), and also to any person able to prove a “legitimate interest”. There are, however, apparently provisions to protect personal data.
As regards politically exposed persons, the agreement clarifies the scope and focuses on individuals presenting a higher risk of corruption than normal owing to the political position they occupy, such as heads of state, members of government, supreme court judges, members of parliament and their family members. In the context of business relations with PEPs, additional measures should be implemented.
At this stage, the agreement is yet to be approved by the ambassadors of the Member States (COREPER) and by the Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs, Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affairs Committees at second reading at the European Parliament, before being put to the vote in plenary session next year.