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EU seeks cash payment limit, tougher money laundering rules

January 18, 2024

The EU has agreed on a plan to limit cash payments to €10,000 (roughly $11,000) and other measures designed to combat money laundering, including with cryptocurrency. The plans will then need bloc-wide approval.

Several large piles of 50-euro banknotes lying next to each other. Undated stock photo.
The new rules and standards could yet take several years to come into full forceImage: Silas Stein/dpa/picture alliance

European Union negotiators on Thursday struck an agreement on plans for tougher provisions to tackle money laundering in the bloc, including in cryptocurrency, and also to limit cash payments to a maximum of €10,000 (roughly $11,000).

"This week's agreements are an important milestone in the fight against dirty money in the EU," EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuiness said in a statement following the agreement in Strasbourg. 

The plans would give financial investigators increased powers of inspection in suspected money laundering and terrorist financing cases as well as broader powers to suspend suspicious transactions and accounts. 

McGuinness hailed the deal, saying it would mean "strong, consistent rules across the EU in the fight against dirty money," and calling this "a game changer."

The plans must now pass through both the European Parliament and also gain approval from the leaders of individual member states at the European Council before they can come into effect. 

Crypto, luxury items, football industry also under purview

Crypto-asset providers would also be required to perform due diligence on their customers and report suspicious activites. They will have to be similarly diligent when carrying out transactions amounting to €1,000 or more.

Traders of luxury goods like precious metals or cars and yachts would also come under the purview of provisions.

Football clubs and agents are set be included, as part of an expanded number of bodies that are to apply an EU-wide regulation on cracking down on money laundering.

Anti-money laundering expert Graham Barrow


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This means a growing number of institutions, not just banks and real-estate agenices and casinos, which have a central role in detecting financial discrepancies, would be subjected to new EU regulation.

Financial intelligence units in member states, which function as an intermediary between private entities subject to anti-money laundering regulations and law enforcement agencies, will be given more power to detect suspicious activities and suspend transactions, accounts and business relationships.

Cash payments restricted

Additionally, an EU-wide maximum limit of €10,000 has also been set for cash payments, which is also designed to make it harder for criminals to launder dirty money. Member states would be given the flexibility to impose a lower maximum limit if they wish as part of the plan.

According to the EU, money laundering and terrorist financing pose a serious threat to the integrity of the EU economy and financial system and the security 'of its citizens.

Europol estimates that around 1% of the EUs annual gross domestic product is "detected as being involved in suspect financial activity."

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