Estonian govt okays amendments toughening anti-money laundering law

  • 2019-05-02
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian government decided on Thursday to amend the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act and the bill to amend the State Fees Act to reduce the risk of the commission of money laundering, terrorist financing and other crimes related to the virtual currency and wallet service.

The proposal for the amendments to be made in the laws was made by Finance Minister Martin Helme, the government communication office said. 

In order to reduce the risk of the commission of crimes, the requirements for the issuance of the authorization for operating as a virtual currency service provider and wallet service provider will be changed. 

An authorization for operating as a virtual currency service provider is required if a company wishes to provide the service of exchanging a virtual currency against a fiat currency or vice versa. An authorization for operating as a virtual currency wallet service provider is required if a company wishes to provide the service of a virtual currency wallet service.

In accordance with the bill, the Financial Intelligence Unit will, when issuing virtual currency service provider authorizations, check the background and the suitability of members of the companies' management boards, including to establish whether or not they have impeccable reputation. Also, it would be required that such companies have their registered domicile, seat of the management board and the place of business in Estonia. 

Foreign companies seeking the authorization are required to open a branch in Estonia.

In addition, the state fee for the issuance of the authorization would be raised from 345 euros to 3,300 euros. The permitted maximum length of the proceeding of the issuance of the authorization would be extended from 30 workdays to three months.

Virtual currency means a value represented in the digital form, such as bitcoin, which is digitally transferable, preservable or tradable and which natural persons or legal persons accept as a payment instrument, but that is not the legal tender of any country.

Companies which already hold a virtual currency service provider authorization will have until Dec. 31 to bring their operations into accordance with the requirements of the amended law and submit additional data to the Financial Intelligence Unit.

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