National implementation of EU Directive on access to financial information proceeds to Parliament
National implementation of the EU Directive on access to financial information moves a step closer. On 7 October, the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal to amend the Act on the Bank and Payment Accounts Control System and the Act on the Financial Intelligence Unit.
"The Directive on access to financial information relates to the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which requires Member States to put in place centralised bank account registries or data retrieval systems allowing the timely identification of the persons holding bank and payment accounts and safe-deposit boxes,” says Elina Rantakokko, Chief Specialist.
In Finland, the above-mentioned requirement has been implemented by laying down provisions on the bank and payment accounts control system, which consists of the bank and payment account data retrieval system and the bank and payment account registry.
Proposal would grant competent authorities access to bank and payment accounts control system
According to the Directive, each Member State must designate the competent authorities empowered to access and search its national centralised bank account registry. Under the Directive, access to bank and payment account registries may be granted to authorities competent for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of serious offences.
The government proposal would designate the police, the Financial Intelligence Unit, Customs and the Border Guard as the above-mentioned authorities. In addition, the tasks of the Financial Intelligence Unit would be expanded to cover cooperation with the authorities in the prevention, detection and investigation of serious offences referred to in the Directive.
Finnish Customs to prepare a compiling system for the authorities
The Government proposes that Customs build a compiling application through which information in the data retrieval systems and the account registry could be communicated to the competent authorities. The system would make it easier for the authorities to access the bank and payment accounts control system, as the authorities could build a single interface to the compiling application instead of multiple interfaces. The data system interface makes it possible for different programs to make requests and exchange information, in other words to communicate with one another.
The compiling application would better meet the requirement of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive concerning a centralised data retrieval system than the current decentralised system, as the authorities must be able to perform searches directly and immediately. The decentralised bank and payment accounts control system which is related to the implementation of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive will be far less used than was intended when the control system was designed.
In addition to the existing access rights laid down in the Act on the Bank and Payment Accounts Control System, the Government proposes that the Tax Administration, Customs, the National Enforcement Authority Finland, the police, the Border Guard, the Defence Forces and the Financial Supervisory Authority would have access to the bank and payment accounts control system. The proposal does not suggest any new powers for the authorities. Instead, the aim is that the authorities that already have access to bank and payment account information in accordance with the current legislation could use the bank and payment accounts control system to access this information.
In Finland, the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was implemented, among other things, by means of the Act on the Bank and Payment Accounts Control System, which entered into force on 1 May 2019. Its provisions on the bank and payment account data retrieval system and on the bank and payment account registry have been applied since 1 September 2020.
The intention is for the Acts to enter into force as soon as possible, with the exception of the provision on a compiling application, which is intended to enter into force on 1 September 2022.
Elina Rantakokko, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 611, [email protected] (7 October at 13.30–15)