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National implementation of EU directive on access to financial information moves a step closer

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 13.1.2020 16.18
Press release 1/2020
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The Ministry of the Interior has set up a legislative project to implement the EU directive on access to financial information at national level. The directive contains rules to facilitate the use of information held in bank account registries by the authorities for the purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting certain offences.

The directive was adopted on 20 June 2019 and Member States must bring into force the acts, decrees and administrative regulations necessary for ensuring compliance with the directive no later than 1 August 2021.

According to the directive, each Member State must designate the competent authorities empowered to access and search its national centralised bank account registry. Centralised bank account registries mean the centralised automated mechanisms, such as central registries or central electronic data retrieval systems. They allow competent authorities to search electronically information on bank and payment accounts as well as on their holders and beneficial owners.

Under the directive, access to bank and payment account registries may be granted to authorities competent for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of serious offences. The project will examine which authorities could be granted access to information in the bank and payment accounts control system and for what purposes. In particular, the work will take into account the right to privacy and the protection of personal data guaranteed by the Constitution and the requirements of data protection provisions.

In addition, Member States must designate the competent authorities that may request and receive financial information or financial analysis from Financial Intelligence Units (FIU). In Finland, the Financial Intelligence Unit operates under the National Bureau of Investigation. The directive also lays down provisions on the exchange of information between FIUs and with Europol.

The directive relates to the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which requires Member States to put in place centralised bank account registries or data retrieval systems allowing the timely identification of the persons holding bank and payment accounts and safe-deposit boxes. In Finland, the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was implemented, among other things, by means of the Act on the Bank and Payment Accounts Control System, which entered into force on 1 May 2019. Its provisions on the bank and payment account data retrieval system and on the bank and payment account registry will apply from 1 September 2020.

The government proposal to be drafted in the project is scheduled to be submitted to Parliament in September 2020.     

Elina Rantakokko, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 611, [email protected]

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