The 10th of January 2020 will see the latest attempt by the UK government to tackle money laundering come into force. But what is the 5AMLD? How does it differ from the Money Laundering Regulations 2017? And, most importantly, what does it mean for conveyancers?
What is the 5AMLD?
The Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (or 5AMLD if you like acronyms) is an EU directive enacted in early 2018. It’s being adopted by the UK now because the January 2020 deadline for transposition of the directive – the date it must be made part of UK law by in non-EU legalese – is fast approaching.
It’s the latest attempt to combat money laundering, currently costing the UK £100 billion a year according to National Crime Agency figures, and will supersede the Money Laundering Regulations 2017.
How Does it Differ from the Previous Regulations?
It’s important to note that the 5AMLD is nowhere near as extensive as its predecessor the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (transposed as the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 in the UK). The previous directive completely transformed the way business approach money laundering, bringing in changes such as the risk-based approach and removing automatic exemptions from due diligence.
Instead, the 5AMLD is more about subtle tweaks to the existing structure of the last directive. It adds some additional provisions that weren’t in the original scope of the 4AMLD. These changes mostly focus on enhancing access to information and increasing the transparency of beneficial ownership information and trusts. The changes include:
- Stricter regulation of payments in digital currencies such as Bitcoin and pre-paid cards to prevent terrorist financing
- Improved safeguards for financial transactions to and from countries the EU deems as ‘high-risk’
- Better access to centralised national bank and payment account registers or central data retrieval systems in all member states
- Public access to the Registers of Beneficial Ownership introduced by the Fourth Directive
- Greater transparency obligations for trusts, which will be required to meet the beneficial ownership requirements. This is alongside potential changes to the threshold for identifying beneficial ownership in high-risk cases
What Does it Mean for Conveyancers?
What does all this mean for firms operating in the property sector? Well, in simple terms, these changes shouldn’t have a dramatic impact on most firms in the short-to-medium-term. Although the directive includes firms acting as letting agents for the first time in high-value transactions with a monthly rent of €10,000 or more, this is unlikely to affect many firms outside of London.
Greater due diligence is required for any firm processing transactions in cryptocurrencies and it’s definitely worth conducting a risk assessment to establish whether your firm is exposed at all and training all staff accordingly.
For those dealing with corporate clients, there is a requirement that details of proof of beneficial ownership should be collected and checked. And, a new obligation to identify senior managing officials if corporate beneficial owners can’t be identified. It also looks as though this proof will increasingly need to be electronic.
The bottom line is that conveyancers should be conducting thorough anti-money laundering checks with every transaction. And, in most cases, this can be achieved by purchasing an AML check from Veriphy or a similar provider. One thing’s for sure, with potential fines of up to €5 million or 10% of annual turnover for non-compliance, it’s never been more important for conveyancers to get serious about anti-money laundering measures.