The European Council has approved a new package of rules designed to prevent fiscal crime, including allowing the public access to information on the beneficial ownership of companies.
Amendments to Directive 2015/849 are intended to close down criminal finance without hindering the normal functioning of payment systems. The changes were approved at a meeting of the General Affairs Council on May 14. This follows an agreement with the European Parliament in December 2017 and Parliament's approval of the agreed text in April.
The new Directive will provide for enhanced access to beneficial ownership registers, with the aim of improving transparency on the ownership of companies and trusts.
The Directive provides for public access to beneficial ownership information on companies; access on the basis of "legitimate interest" to beneficial ownership information on trusts and similar legal arrangements; and public access upon written request to beneficial ownership information on trusts that own a company that is not incorporated in the EU.
Member states will retain the right to provide broader access to information, in accordance with their national laws.
The registers will be interconnected to facilitate cooperation between EU member states.
The revised Directive also aims at improving cooperation between member states' financial intelligence units by providing them with access to information in centralized bank and payment account registers, to enable them to identify account holders. The Commission will require additional due diligence measures for financial flows from countries identified as having deficiencies in their anti-money laundering prevention regimes.
Vladislav Goranov, Finance Minister for Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council presidency, said: "These new rules respond to the need for increased security in Europe by further removing the means available to terrorists. They will enable us to disrupt criminal networks without compromising fundamental rights and economic freedoms."
Switzerland's lower house of Parliament on May 29, 2018, approved DTAs with Kosovo and Pakistan.
The Moroccan Government has approved for ratification a DTA with the Republic of the Congo, it announced on May 29, 2018.
Argentina has approved a protocol to its DTA with Brazil, the Argentinian Official Gazette reported on May 23, 2018.
Brazil's upper house of Parliament on May 30, 2018, approved a protocol updating the DTA with Norway.
Hong Kong and Finland on May 24, 2018, signed a DTA.
Legislation ratifying a new DTA between Russia and Japan was submitted to the Russian State Assembly (the Duma) for approval on May 22, 2018.
Vietnam and Macau signed a DTA on April 16, according to a statement released by the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance on May 11, 2018.
Talks are continuing on a DTA between Jordan and Switzerland, according to a statement released by Jordan's Foreign Ministry on May 14, 2018.
The Czech Senate approved a law to ratify the DTA with Ghana on May 17, 2018.
The Philippines-Thailand DTA entered into force on March 5, and the Philippines' DTA with Sri Lanka on March 14, the Filipino tax agency announced on May 17, 2018. They will be effective from January 1, 2019.
Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation met with Luxembourg's Finance Minister to discuss enhanced cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas and agreed to seek to conclude a DTA.
Uzbekistan and Lithuania are to engage in talks towards a DTA, Uzbekistan's state news agency reported May 9, 2018.
Two Georgian committees approved the text of a DTA with Saudi Arabia and forwarded it for ratification, according to a May 17 announcement on the Georgian parliament's website.
Hong Kong gazetted an order to ratify its DTA with Saudi Arabia on May 18, 2018.
Talks are continuing on a DTA between Turkey and Afghanistan, according to a statement released by Turkey's Ministry of the Interior on May 11, 2018.
A new DTA between Finland and Spain will enter into force in January 2019, according to a May 18, 2018, announcement from the Finnish tax authority.
Andorra and Cyprus have signed a DTA, Andorra's Government announced on May 18, 2018.
Singapore and Brazil signed a DTA on May 7, 2018.
A DTA between Morocco and the Congo was signed on April 30, 2018.
The Mauritius Revenue Authority on March 19, 2018, published Government Notice No. 36 of 2018, confirming the entry into force of a Protocol updating its DTA with Barbados.
Legislation allowing for a DTA between the Netherlands and Malawi was ratified on April 30, 2018.
Switzerland and Brazil signed a DTA on May 3, 2018.
Slovakia on April 27, 2018, published Notice 123/2018 confirming the entry into force of its DTA with Ethiopia.
The Indian Government on May 7, 2018, announced that the DTA Protocol signed with Kuwait entered into force on March 26, 2018. A notice was published in India's Official Gazette on May 4, 2018.
The DTA between Slovakia and Iran became effective on May 1, 2018.