The Spanish notariat at the forefront of the fight against money laundering

posted in: National news

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Spanish notaries play a decisive role in preventing money laundering, terrorist financing and tax fraud. In order to strengthen and channel this work, in 2005 the Ministry of Economy created the Centralised Body for the Prevention of Money Laundering (OCP in Spanish) and in 2007 the Tax Collaboration Body (OCT in Spanish), which are now the spearhead of the notarial commitment in the fight against these social ills. Since its creation, the OCP has referred over 5,000 transactions to SEPBLAC in which it has detected signs of money laundering offences and it has handled more than 160,000 requests for information from authorities.

The OCP is the main body of the Spanish notariat for the collaboration with authorities to fight against economic crime. The OCP experts carry out their work analysing and cross-referencing data, thanks to the fact that the transactions carried out by the 2,800 notaries are parameterised and included in the Notarial Single Computerised Index. They also receive alerts and warnings from notaries themselves about suspicious transactions, which they thoroughly track and investigate. The Notarial Single Computerised Index contains more than 116 million notarial documents, making it the second largest database in the public sector, after the Tax Agency.

On behalf of notaries, the OCP reports the transactions it considers risky to the Executive Service of the Commission for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financial Crime (SEPBLAC), the highest Spanish authority in the fight against money laundering. It also responds to all requests for information from the judicial, administrative and police bodies that tackle these crimes.

Two powerful tools are derived from the Notarial Single Computerised Index: the Beneficial Ownership Database and the Public Accountability Database.

The Beneficial Ownership Database
It allows public authorities to get the most out of the information contained in the Notarial Single Computerised Index on company ownership. Created in 2012, its mission is to identify who is behind a company. In the Notarial Beneficial Ownership Database, the beneficial owners of 2,000,000 limited liability companies, 117,000 corporations and 195,000 non-commercial legal persons, such as associations, foundations or political parties, are listed in an authenticated manner. In five years, judges, police authorities and entities bound by the Law (financial entities, auditors, insurers, etc.) have made more than 3,500,000 requests for information on beneficial owners of hundreds of thousands of companies and organisations identified in the database. The FATF noted that if in Spain there is a reliable and up-to-date source of public information regarding beneficial owners, it is thanks to the notariat’s Beneficial Ownership Database. 

The Public Accountability Database
The Public Accountability Database has identified more than 25,000 people with public accountability and their close associates. Of the persons identified, nearly 15,000 have public accountability by election or appointment (High State institutions; Government and Central Administration; Autonomous Communities, Local Administration and managers of public companies) and 10,000 are close to these persons through relationships or business.