The FATF highlights the role of the notarial system in the fight against money laundering

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On 8 July 2019, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published its new Guidance for a Risk-Based Approach for Legal Professionals. The previous edition was released in 2007-2008. “The AML system used by Spain’s notaries represents a considerable advance for Public Authorities”, the FATF notes. “All parties subject to AML requirements may consult the Beneficial Ownership Database (Base de Datos de Titular Real, BDTR)”, it highlights.

The FATF proposes a series of measures to Governments aimed at combating money laundering and terrorist financing and protecting the integrity of the international financial system. These measures include a model to be followed by the money laundering prevention system employed by notaries in Spain, and more specifically its BDTR.

The Guidance has been sent to the 39 countries that form part of the FATF, including Spain, as well as to member associations such as the European Union. https://www.fatf-gafi.org/about/membersandobservers/

The Guidance states that “The AML system used by Spain’s notaries represents a considerable advance for Public Authorities, which thanks to its implementation now have access to a new source of valuable information: notarial indexes (a single database with information on all the public instruments and policies notarised and witnessed in the country). This information is processed in an integrated and automated manner to detect potential ML/TF operations”.

On the Beneficial Ownership Database (BDTR), created in 2012 and regulated by Royal Decree 304/2014, the FATF notes that, “All parties subject to AML requirements may consult the BDTR to facilitate compliance with Due Diligence obligations. This thus allows the FIU and Law Enforcement Agencies to obtain information on owners with a percentage of less than 25% (full corporate regime) at Spanish private limited liability companies, on any given date”.

The FATF highlights the two levels of quality of the BDTR information, with “information verified in accordance with the sale and purchase transaction of the shares of Spanish Private Limited Liability Companies” and “information based on a statement to a public official (foreign companies, foundations, associations, Spanish corporations)”.

Finally, the FATF indicates that “The General Council of the Notariat has established agreements with associations of parties subject to AML obligations (banks, savings banks, investment firms, auditors, lawyers, lottery agencies, credit institutions, etc.)”.

The Beneficial Ownership Database has identified the beneficial owners, accredited in 86% of cases, of 2,300,000 legal entities, including companies and associations, foundations, and political parties.

Link to FATF Guidance: https://www.fatf-gafi.org/documents/riskbasedapproach/documents/rba-legal-professionals.html?hf=10&b=0&s=desc(fatf_releasedate)