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The EU’s Fifth Anti-money
Laundering Directive (or 5MLD) came into force on January 10th 2020
in all member countries. While much of the content in this updated directive
built on recommendations already made in 4MLD, there were several important
changes that have proven to be especially impactful. We’ve outlined the main
takeaways in further detail below.
While virtual currencies hadn’t been a key focus
in the EU’s previous money laundering directives, 5MLD changed that. It brought
in several new measures to tighten the regulation of cryptocurrencies and the
products that accompany them. Here are the key updates to be aware of:
5MLD introduced a new legal
definition of cryptocurrency, for consistency on precisely what constitutes
Cryptocurrencies and marketplaces
are now subjected to all the same AML regulations as conventional cash, and
must adopt the same AML compliance measures – like KYC checks and customer due diligence.
In an effort to tackle the
trend of cryptocurrency being owned and traded anonymously, 5MLD gave Financial
Intelligence Units the power to request the names and addresses of anyone with
5MLD stated that all providers
of cryptocurrency and platforms for cryptocurrency exchanges must be registered
with the relevant regulatory body – which in the UK is the Financial Conduct Authority.
In June 2017, 4MLD set a limit of €250 on the
value of anonymous prepaid cards, to make it more difficult for financial crime
like terrorist financing to take place. However, 5MLD decreased this limit
further to just €150. This cap applies to balance top-ups too, so no more than
€150 can be stored on any anonymously prepaid card at one time.
If a customer is using a prepaid card with a
balance over this value, firms are required to carry out an ID check before
accepting their payment. On top of this, the fifth money laundering directive
capped all anonymous online or remote transactions at €50, to make it harder
for the proceeds of financial crime to be circulated.
5MLD also effectively banned the use of any
prepaid cards issued outside the UK, unless they come from a country with AML regulationssimilar to those in the EU.
Another significant change the 5thAML directive brought in is the application of AML regulations to any firm or individual
that trades in high value goods. This measure was specifically designed to try
and block the covert funding of terrorist activity.
So, since 5MLD came into force, every dealer or company
that trades in the below goods has been obliged to carry out the same AML
checks as any other business in the regulated sector:
Art traders, dealing in transactions
of €10,000 or over
Cultural or historical
In 4MLD, there was a lot of emphasis on the
importance of establishing the identity of any ultimate beneficial owners within a
business or organisation. This fourth money laundering directive made it
compulsory for every member country to draw up a centralised registry for all
known UBOs. However, 5MLD brought in further legislation for the recording of
These central UBO lists were to
be made accessible to the public. Participating countries had a time limit of
18 months from January 2020 to put these changes in place.
UBO regulations were extended
to include financial trusts, who had to disclose their ultimate beneficial
All member countries were asked
to review and generally reinforce their UBO identification methods, to reduce
risk and improve accuracy.
Member countries were advised
to set up separate UBO lists for bank accounts – but these weren’t required to
5MLD also stated that national
UBO lists should be easily accessible to other EU countries, to try and
Whatever kind of company you run, it’s crucial
that your AML compliance measures are updated to reflect the changes in
regulation which 5MLD brought to the table. To comply with 5MLD, you might
consider doing the following:
Reinforce your existing
risk-based approach and make alterations wherever necessary.
Strengthen your customer due
diligence process, for quick, reliable results and maximum accuracy.
Perform EIDV on businesses,
with UBO checks and registers in place to identify and record any ultimate
beneficial owners early on.
Carry out ongoing monitoring
for all your clients and customers, in case of a change in status.
Implement enhanced due
diligence for any higher risk clients or customers.
Make sure your records
management is compliant with both GDPR and 5MLD.
Using a third-party like SmartSearch is the
easiest way to ensure you’ve checked all of these compliance boxes. We keep on
top of all the latest changes in AML regulation, and alter our services
accordingly, so you can get back to business.
is an end-to-end AML platform, which takes care of every aspect of your
compliance – from KYC checks through to ongoing monitoring. We use the Dow
Jones Watchlist to secure the most accurate results possible when it
comes to AML checks. Whether you’re verifying an individual or business, in the
UK or overseas, SmartSearch gives you a clear pass or fail result in seconds,
and automatically triggers enhanced
due diligence for any matches with sanctions lists, PEP lists or UBO