The BNB and SANS will jointly check banks against money laundering
Financial Intelligence Inspectors, State Agency for National Security (SANS) and the Bulgarian National Bank will conduct joint on-the-spot checks against money laundering. This is what is provided for in a draft Instruction on the procedure for carrying out joint on-site inspections of persons under Art. 108, para. 6, item 1 of the Law on Measures against Money Laundering, which is currently under public discussion. Consultations on the project will end on January 22.
The texts refer to on-the-spot checks at banking institutions. The procedure for conducting the inspections will be determined by joint instructions of both the Chairman of the State Agency for National Security and the heads of the supervisory bodies.
The reasons also state that the document will clarify the issuance of inspection orders, of the implementation plan, the division of responsibilities between the two institutions, avoidance of duplicate control activities as well as administrative savings.
It is certain that the ultimate effectiveness of the national system for prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing will be enhanced.
This, in turn, will increase efficiency in the implementation of preventive legislation against money laundering and terrorist financing. At the same time, the control authorities believe the checks will contribute to improving the business environment security in Bulgaria in the long run.
The joint work of the Financial Intelligence Agency, SANS and the BNB will not lead to additional expenses either for the SANS budget or for the budget of the Bulgarian National Bank.
In 2019, as part of the commitments made by our country on the road to the Banking Union and the euro zone, amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act were developed and adopted. They reflected the new requirements of European Directive (EU) 2018/843.
The latest amendments provide for EU Member States to delete the possibility of opening anonymous bank accounts and renting safes anonymously by 20 January. Lists of posts held by prominent political figures should be prepared and presented to the European Commission. For this reason the state and local authorities as well as the institutions and agencies where persons hold such positions will provide the Financial Intelligence Directorate of the State Agency for National Security with the necessary information for its inclusion in the list. A similar obligation will be introduced to international organizations whose headquarters are in Bulgaria and in the structures of which a person occupies a similar position.
The other changes obliged the BNB, banks and exchange offices, insurance and pension companies, notaries and accountants, postal operators, dealers of arms and oil products to notify the SANS Financial Intelligence Directorate before the operation is completed and delay it when possible. Comprehensive customer checking is compulsory at opening an account and at occasional transactions worth more than EUR 15 thousand or for amounts exceeding EUR 5 thousand in cash transactions.
The law also rules extremely severe sanctions for violators. Non-criminal offenses are divided into several groups – the liable bodies (banks, insurers, investment intermediaries, pension insurance companies, etc.) are responsible for failure to comply with the measures in the verification of beneficial owners, for clarifying the origin of customer funds, for alert on suspicion of money laundering, etc.
For a natural person the fine will be from BGN 1000 to 10 000 and in case of repeated violation the amounts will be doubled.
For companies the property sanction will be between BGN 2000 and 20 000 which goes from BGN 5,000 to 50,000 for a recurrence and up to BGN 200,000 if the offender is a bank, exchange office, investment firm.