On 12 November 2018, the European Parliament published the 6th AML Directive (AMLD6), bringing into force further rules against money laundering, which Member States are required to transpose into national law by 3 December 2020.

The AMLD6 establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering. The key amendments proposed through the AMLD6 are outlined below:

Definition of criminal activities to be considered as predicate offences

The AMLD6 aims to have a uniform definition for criminal activities constituting predicate offences for money laundering, to ensure that these are subjected to effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties amongst Member States. In this respect, the AMLD6 lists a total of 22 predicate offences, including cybercrime, tax crime and environmental offences.

Money Laundering offences punishable as criminal offences

The AMLD6 also defines the money laundering offences and types of conduct to be punished as a criminal offense and broadens the scope of money laundering offences to include aiding, abetting, inciting and attempting an offence of money laundering as a criminal offence.

Stricter penalties for individuals

Members states must ensure that money laundering offences are punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least four years, alongside additional sanctions or measures, such as fines, temporary disqualification from the practice of commercial activities, or temporary bans on running for elected or public office.

Extension of liability and sanctions for legal persons

One of the most significant amendments under the AMLD6 is the extension of criminal liability to legal persons or individuals having a leading position within the legal person (i.e. representatives, decision-makers or those with authority to exercise control) who commit money laundering offences for the benefit of their organisation, including where the offence was made possible by the lack of supervision or control of the said individuals. Member States must ensure that liable legal persons are punished by criminal or non -criminal fines, including exclusion from public benefits or aid, temporary or permanent exclusion from access to public funding, temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice of commercial activities, placing under judicial supervision, a judicial winding-up order, temporary or permanent closure of establishments which have been used for committing the offence.

Increased Cooperation between Member States

AMLD6 addresses the issue of dual criminality by introducing specific information sharing requirements between jurisdictions so that a criminal prosecution for the connected offenses can take place in more than one Member State. As part of the process, the Member States involved in a prosecution will work together to centralize legal proceedings within a single jurisdiction. AMLD6 sets out a range of factors for authorities to consider when deciding how and where to conduct prosecutions, including the victims' country of origin, the nationality or residence of the offender and the jurisdiction in which the offense took place.

The AMLD6 as this was published in the Official Journal of the European Union can be viewed here.

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