ANTI MONEY LAUNDERING – INFRINGEMENT FOR ROMANIA BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
By Adrian Bucur
General Manager, MAL Consulting & Management srl
In the last period a concern was observed on the part of gambling service providers regarding the implementation of the requirements of Order no. 370/2021 of the President of the National Gambling Office for the application of the instructions regarding the prevention and combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism in the field of gambling in Romania.
However, while the Romanian gambling operators, the receptive ones, proceeded to implement these requirements, and despite the fact that ONJN transposed the European requirements into the national legislative framework, the European Union bodies consider that the legal provisions in Romania they are not only insufficient and lacking, but also violate the limits provided by the normative acts of the EU.
The European Commission recently announced an infringement for Romania and sent Romania a reasoned opinion, because it incorrectly transposed the fifth Directive on combating money laundering.
According to the clarifications of the European Commission, the Romanian authorities have exempted several categories of legal entities from the obligation to declare the real beneficiaries, exemptions that are not actually provided by the directive.
The fifth AML Directive strengthens the EU standards regarding the transparency of beneficial ownership information and their inclusion in centralized and auditable records.
Anti-money laundering rules are essential in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. In this direction, Romania has two months at its disposal for the correct application of the requirements in this field.
The European Commission points out that “legislative gaps in a member state affect the EU as a whole. For this reason, EU rules must be implemented and their enforcement must be effectively supervised to fight crime and ensure the protection of our financial system. Romania now has two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
However, the most important obligations of gambling providers remain in force regardless of the conclusions of the EU bodies and regardless of the legislative changes that Romania will enact.
Thus, with regard to the development of internal rules for the prevention of money laundering, a series of risk indicators is targeted. Order 370 of 2021 of the ONJN President, details each type of risk according to its category – slot machine, remote gambling, casinos, betting – such as:
– the placement of important sums derived from criminal activities;
– fragmentation of the staked amounts into small stakes so as not to become suspicious;
– the loss of considerable sums at the gaming table, in favor of certain players or a certain person, when the games are not “against the house”;
– players residing abroad, especially those outside the European Union, coming from countries that are included in the list of high-risk jurisdictions or under increased monitoring of the International Financial Action Group;
– employee complicity.
Consequently, even to the extent that the legislative norms will undergo some changes, the most important duties of gambling operators and those that cover them from any criminal act will remain in existence, and they have the duty to ensure within their own businesses, the rules for preventing money laundering – firstly in order to comply with the legal provisions, and secondly, to guard against any kind of activity that may arouse suspicion.