Maria Theodoulou, Partner at Stokoe Partnership Solicitors, comments for International Bar Association, examining the latest EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

“A key part of an in-house lawyer’s role is, of course, to keep abreast of any new rules and regulatory regimes affecting how their company does business. But general counsel is likely to face challenges when it comes to preparing for the Fourth European Union Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Directive (EU) 2015-849).

The Directive (4MLD) was approved by the European Parliament on 20 May 2015 and EU Member States have until 26 June 2017 to implement it.

However, in the wake of last December’s attacks in Paris, there are now moves to try and speed its introduction by this September as part of a broader strategy to combat terrorist funding.

4MLD is unlikely to satisfy those campaigning for complete transparency, says Maria Theodoulou, partner at Stokoe Partnership. But it goes a long way to ensuring the ownership of companies and their assets are transparent.

There is always a tension, comments Theodoulou, between introducing the measures as soon as possible to prevent crime – especially terrorism – and giving businesses time to get their policies and procedures in place before implementation.

‘If measures are rushed in without proper time to adapt, many businesses will find themselves in real difficulty.’

‘Providing businesses are given adequate time to adapt, early implementation should not be a problem,’ she says. ‘If, however, measures are rushed in without proper time to adapt, many will find themselves in real difficulty. As we have repeatedly seen, the ability to move money around directly affects the ability to finance and plan terrorist activity.

‘If 4MLD is successful in preventing terrorists from moving their money, it will hopefully limit their ability to carry out attacks within the EU and elsewhere.’

Snijder-Kuipers understands the sensitivity and political willingness for earlier implementation, but warns there needs to be a realisation that legislation will not result in a different behaviour of people.

‘Legislation is only the necessary condition to create and intensify awareness on money laundering and financing of terrorism. Given the existing tight timeframe, it is not advisable to push the national lawyers to intensify their legislation process further to meet tighter timeframes.’”

Read the full article here.