EU Regulator Proposes Expanding AML Rules to ‘Crypto-Assets’

By Koos Couvée

The European Union should consider broadening forthcoming anti-money laundering rules to cover a wider range of cryptocurrency firms as well as “crypto-assets,” such as those used for investment purposes, the European Banking Authority, or EBA, advised in a report Wednesday.

The 30-page report calls on the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, to take recommendations recently put forward by the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, into account in any upcoming review of rules pertaining to Bitcoin, Ripple, Monero and other cryptocurrencies.

Crypto-assets “have evolved rapidly in the last couple of years,” EBA officials claimed in the report Wednesday. “Today their use extends well beyond tokens for payment-type purposes to include ‘investment’ or ‘security’ tokens representing debt or equity claims on the issuer, and ‘utility’ tokens used to provide access to applications or services.”

FATF recommended in October that nations impose AML requirements on firms involved in exchanging cryptocurrency for national money or other forms of cryptocurrency, as well as on a broader range of firms that store or administer cryptocurrency for clients.

FATF also revised its standards to cover cryptocurrency used “in the context of capital raising,” such as initial coin offerings.

Those recommendations go beyond the European Union’s Fifth AML Directive, or 5AMLD, which requires EU nations to regulate exchanges of cryptocurrency for national currency and firms providing custodian wallets—the industry’s version of a personal bank account—by January 2020.

But the increasing use of cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency exchanges and crypto-assets underscores the need to consider whether the directive will suffice to regulate them, according to the EBA, which promotes the convergence of financial supervision across the 28-nation bloc.

Anton Moiseienko, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, in London, told ACAMS that the report shows a “shifting consensus” among policymakers that AML regulation of cryptocurrencies should also cover firms with business models that do not intersect with government-issued money.

“There has been a discussion for some time over whether 5AMLD goes far enough,” Moiseienko said. “There’s a new consensus that the regulations should also cover crypto-to-crypto exchanges and the FATF recommendations were a milestone in establishing that.”

Some EU member states may follow the example of the United Kingdom by anticipating tougher requirements for cryptocurrency firms when transposing 5AMLD into national laws and regulations, Moiseienko said.

U.K. regulators unveiled plans last year to bring cryptocurrency firms, including third-party exchanges and peer-to-peer exchange platforms, under AML rules “significantly beyond” those mandated by the European Union despite the nation’s impending exit from the bloc in March.

Investigators from London’s Metropolitan Police and EU law-enforcement agency Europol told last month that officials have seen an increase in criminal abuse of “privacy coins” such as Dash and Monero, both of which are much harder to trace than Bitcoin, the world’s dominant cryptocurrency.

Regulating crypto-to-crypto exchanges would reduce opportunities for criminals to trade more transparent cryptocurrencies for privacy coins without undergoing customer due-diligence checks, Moiseienko, the RUSI analyst, said.

Topics : Anti-money laundering , Counterterrorist Financing , Cryptocurrencies
Source: European Union
Document Date: January 9, 2019