Date
21 October 2018
New European rules on bitcoin platforms will help boost transparency and prevent money laundering activities, says EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova. Photo: Bloomberg
New European rules on bitcoin platforms will help boost transparency and prevent money laundering activities, says EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova. Photo: Bloomberg

EU agrees on bitcoin platform rules to curb money laundering

European Union states and legislators agreed on Friday on stricter rules to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing on exchange platforms for bitcoin and other virtual currencies. 

The agreement is part of a broader set of measures to tackle financial crimes and tax evasion, Reuters reports.

The pact “will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing,” EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova was quoted as saying in a statement.

The decision comes as bitcoin prices have risen more than 1,700 percent since the start of the year, triggering worries about a market bubble.

The agreed EU measures will end anonymous transactions on virtual currency platforms and with pre-paid payment cards.

Bitcoin exchange platforms and “wallet” providers that hold the cyber currency for clients will be required to identify their users under the new rules.

EU legislators also backed stricter controls on pre-paid cards, and raised transparency requirements for the owners of trusts and companies.

The measures now must be formally adopted by EU states and European legislators and then turned into national laws within 18 months.

It took EU legislators more than a year of negotiations to agree on the legislative proposals, put forward by the European Commission in the wake of shooting and bombing attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016 which killed more than 160 people.

The talks dragged on because some EU states opposed increased transparency on trusts and companies, fearing a negative impact on their economies, Reuters noted.

The EU lawmaker in charge of the issue, Dutch Green Judith Sargentini, said Britain, Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Ireland were among those opposing the changes.

The deal allows the authorities and “persons who can demonstrate a legitimate interest” to access data on the beneficial owners of trusts.

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RC

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