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Europe mulls anonymous crypto-wallet ban, rules to make transfers more traceable

Won't someone please think of the ch, er, money laundering

The European Commission has put forward legislation requiring cryptocurrency exchanges and other companies to ensure crypto-asset transfers include the personal details of the customers involved.

That information is set to include the sender's name, address, and date of birth, and the name of the receiver. Anonymous crypto-asset wallets are banned, too, under the proposals, which are supposed to ensure crypto-payments and suchlike are transparent and traceable. Anonymous bank accounts are already outlawed by the EU, after all.

Europe has rules in place to clamp down on money laundering, and the proposed laws would extend that red tape to the “entire crypto sector, obliging all service providers to conduct due diligence on their customers,” according to an announcement this week. Officials also want to limit all cash payments to €10,000 in all member states, making it more difficult to shift large amounts of money. EU nations with lower limits can keep those limits.

“Money laundering poses a clear and present threat to citizens, democratic institutions, and the financial system,” said Mairead McGuinness, the European Commissioner responsible for financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union.

“The scale of the problem cannot be underestimated and the loopholes that criminals can exploit need to be closed. Today's package significantly ramps up our efforts to stop dirty money being washed through the financial system.”

To ensure that these rules are followed, the commission suggested setting up an Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA). The unit will work directly with financial institutions and supervise "some of the riskiest financial institutions that operate in a large number of Member States or require immediate action to address imminent risks."

“Every fresh money laundering scandal is one scandal too many – and a wake-up call that our work to close the gaps in our financial system is not yet done,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, a EU Commissioner for trade.

“We have made huge strides in recent years and our EU [anti-money laundering] rules are now among the toughest in the world. But they now need to be applied consistently and closely supervised to make sure they really bite. This is why we are today taking these bold steps to close the door on money laundering and stop criminals from lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains.”

If Europe goes swiftly ahead with the proposed legislation, it is expected to go into effect from 2024.

We'd quote the price of, say, Bitcoin here as an illustration that crypto-fans took this news badly, though in all honesty, the currency has been up and down, and down, and down, in general; it dipped below $30,000 apiece this week, though is back above $31,000 right now. ®

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