Cyprus plans to launch a register in coming months identifying the owners of thousands of companies on the island. Details of thousands of companies domiciled on the island, many thought to have Russian links, will be collected from March 16 to be entered in a so-called Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) register.
Companies will be given a period of 6 months to collect the necessary information for the register.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) published revised guidelines for money-laundering and terrorist-financing risk factors, including guidance on related risk assessments and customer due diligence (CDD) for beneficial owners.
The guidelines, which are addressed to both financial institutions and supervisory authorities, separately incorporate sectoral guidance on crowdfunding platforms, corporate finance, payment initiation services providers (PISPs), account information service providers (AISPs).
Under the revisions, financial institutions must identify the beneficial owner of a corporate client, determine that the customer’s ownership structure isn’t unduly complex or opaque, and assess whether true control of the legal entity is in the hands of an individual not named as its owner—inclusions to the amended guidelines that largely echo industry practices.
Such compliance steps, however, cannot solely rely on data included in national beneficial ownership registers, the EBA warned, noting that firms may need to take additional steps to verify customer information, particularly when the risks associated with the business have increased or when they have reasons to doubt that the register’s data is inaccurate.
Compliance professionals that use technological solutions for beneficial-ownership identification and verification purposes should assess whether their use of such tools sufficiently addresses, or perhaps exacerbates, their AML/CFT risks, according to the revised guidelines.
Cryptocurrency ATMs have seen a surge in interest amid this year’s Bitcoin frenzy, fuelling concerns the machines could be exploited by “money mules” looking to wash criminal cash.
Installed in shops, petrol stations, the machines swap cash for cryptocurrencies or cryptocurrencies for cash, often in exchange for a hefty fee.
As the price of one Bitcoin surpassed $51,000 (£36,800) this month, cryptocurrency ATMs hit their own milestone, totalling more than 15,000 worldwide for the first time, according to Coin ATM Radar.
That compares to the 6,759 cryptocurrency ATMs there were globally this time last year.
Banks fear that ”buy now, pay later” operators such as Afterpay, which operate outside traditional banking rules, have increased the risk they will be ensnared in more anti-money laundering dramas.
Banks say they cannot see where money is being spent because the new players are standing in between banks and transactions.
The Australian Banking Association wants Treasury to close “gaps” in regulations to reduce growing payments risks.
The Financial Conduct Authority in Britain plans to bring companies Afterpay, Zip and Laybuy into its supervisory net – including requiring providers to conduct affordability checks before lending to customers.
The new British regulations will go further than Australia’s, where regulators have adopted a light-touch approach to the fast-growing sector, focused mostly on self-regulation.
The European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it will start conducting experiments to decide whether to launch a digital euro.
In a report setting out the pros and cons of launching a digital euro, the ECB said that it “could support the Eurosystems objectives by providing citizens with a safe form of money in the fast-changing digital world.”
Unlike private digital currencies like Bitcoin or Facebook’s Libra, the digital euro would be a central bank liability and would complement the current offering of cash and wholesale central bank deposits. Its value would therefore not be volatile because it would be backed by the central bank.