On 17 July 2019 the General Inspector of Financial Information (GIIF) published Poland’s first AML/CFT National Risk Assessment. This document of nearly 450 pages was prepared pursuant to the new Anti Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act, which introduced regulations requiring GIIF to prepare a national assessment and update it periodically.
For over five years, including within this blog, we have written about the changes in application of anti money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regulations to activity involving crypto assets. But further legal changes and notable new interpretations continue to arise.
As I wrote nearly a year ago, at the request of the G20 countries the issue of crypto assets was taken up recently by several key global organisations involved in establishing standards in specific fields. One of them is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organisation appointed to develop and assist in implementing and monitoring standards for combating money laundering, financing of terrorism, and financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Newly formed companies, and companies that have been on the market for some time, are becoming increasingly aware of their obligations under AML/FT regulations. Firms in various sectors, such as the technological sector, do not always realise that these obligations are only applicable to the types of entities listed in AML laws. Some businesses employ know your customer (KYC) identification procedures equivalent to those provided for in AML laws even though they are not subject to these laws. The problem is that overzealousness of this kind might be a breach of laws in other areas, especially personal data laws, above all the GDPR.
Anti-money laundering (AML) is the first area of Polish law where the parliament has adopted regulations directly related to cryptocurrencies and some other types of crypto-assets. We have devoted a lot of articles to this issue on the blog.
The direction of changes in the Polish law concerning AML results from the development of a global approach to this issue. Mostly this is due to the work of the Financial Action Task Force. FATF is an intergovernmental organisation authorised to create and assist in the implementation and monitoring of anti-money laundering standards, financing of terrorism and financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The EU and Polish legislative work on revision of the AML regulations is based on the models presented in FATF publications from 2014 and 2015.
This will not be another article about cryptocurrencies. Instead, I want to focus on a dangerous precedent we may have overlooked in the broader debate over cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency exchanges and other enterprises operating on the cryptocurrency market have been targeted by the highly controversial practice of banks shutting down their accounts. This practice displays the universal threats arising along with the increasing digitalisation of commerce.
Controversies surrounding application of money-laundering regulations generate legal uncertainty for businesses operating in the field of digital currencies.