European Union updates country list for stricter AML checks

| By Robert Fletcher
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), has updated its list of high-risk countries, from which players should be subjected to stricter customer checks by gambling operators.
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Based on Directive (EU) 2015/849, Article 9, the Commission identifies any high-risk third countries that have strategic deficiencies in their regime on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

As such, operators based in the EU that are offering services to these countries or dealing with players from these nations are obliged to carry out heightened vigilance checks.

The list was first published in July 2016 and has been updated a number of times as further countries of concern are identified and flagged by the Commission.

The latest countries to be added to this list – in an update published last month – include Burkina Faso, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jordan, Malo, Morocco, Myanmar, the Philippines, Senegal and South Sudan.

Other nations included on the list include Afghanistan, Barbados, Cambodia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Jamaica, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Countries are only added to the list if they meet a series of criteria set by the Commission, which include a number of factors set out by the Financial Action Task Force.

The Commission then identifies the risk profile and the level of threat to which the country is exposed and assesses the legal framework and its effective application in eight key areas.

This includes analysing countries on the criminalisation of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism; customer due diligence requirements, record keeping and reporting of suspicious transactions in the financial sector; and the same requirements in the non-financial sector.

The Commission also considers the existence of dissuasive, proportionate and effective sanctions in case of breaches; the powers and procedures of competent authorities and 

their practice in international cooperation; the availability and exchange of information on beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements, and the implementation of targeted financial sanctions.

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