The ultimate owners of companies will have to be listed in central registers in EU countries, open both to the authorities and to people with a "legitimate interest", such as journalists, under a Parliament/Council deal endorsed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs and Civil Liberties committees on Tuesday.
The new anti-money laundering directive aims to help to fight money laundering, tax crimes and terrorist financing. New rules to make it easier to trace transfers of funds were also approved. The fourth anti-money laundering directive (AMLD) will for the first time oblige EU member states to keep central registers of information on the ultimate "beneficial" owners of corporate and other legal entities, as well as trusts. (A "beneficial" owner actually owns or controls a company and its activities and ultimately authorises transactions, whether such ownership is exercised directly or by a proxy). These central registers were not envisaged in the European Commission's initial proposal, but were included by MEPs in negotiations. The text also requires banks, auditors, lawyers, real estate agents and casinos, among others, to be more vigilant about suspicious transactions made by their clients.
The two deals still need to be endorsed by the full Parliament (March or April) and by the EU Council of Ministers. Member states will then have two years to transpose the anti-money laundering directive into their national laws.