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MEPs seek to amend the AML Directive and allow citizens to access data of companies’ beneficial ownership

The European Parliament’s Economic & Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Civil Liberties Justice & Home Affairs (LIBE) committees have voted on the revision of the anti-money laundering (AML) Directive in a bid to give EU citizens access to registers of beneficial owners of companies without having to demonstrate a legitimate interest.

Currently authorities and professionals, such as journalists and lobbyists, are restricted to access such information. The proposal will fill in gaps in the EU legal framework against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and would introduce greater transparency to prevent tax evasion.

Similarly, trusts, which were previously not included in the Directive on privacy grounds, will be subject to the same transparency requirements if the amendments were to make it into law.

A co-rapporteur on the file from Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA), Judith Sargentini said: “Complex company structures and shelf companies make it easy for people to hide money. Through a public register for companies and trusts, the European Parliament wants to shed light on these structures and thereby combat them.”

ECON and LIBE voted in favour of starting negotiations with the Council. Pending the EU Parliament’s approval in the March plenary session, the trialogue on these amendments between the EU Parliament, the EU Commission and the EU Council should start later this year.

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