Anti-money laundering has been high on the legislative agenda in recent years, both at European and national level across the region. In the Netherlands, against the backdrop of recent scandals and an imminent FATF evaluation, the Ministers of Finance and Justice announced their joint ambition to set an international example in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

This Dutch AML Action Plan, originally presented in June 2019, stresses the importance of a collaborative approach to tackling money laundering - with coordinated action between regulators, prosecutors and financial institutions - and goes further than the internationally prescribed standards. It consists of three pillars:

  •  Pillar 1 - raising or creating barriers to make it increasingly difficult for criminals to introduce illegally obtained funds into the financial system
  •  Pillar 2 - enhancing the effectiveness and supervision of gatekeeper functions to deny criminally obtained funds access to the financial system
  •  Pillar 3 - supporting detection and prosecution, to increase the speed and efficiency with which criminals are dealt with.

In January 2020, the Ministers of Finance and Justice reported to the Dutch parliament that several important steps had been taken towards implementing the Action Plan. In particular, a bill is currently being prepared to implement certain elements of the plan, which will amend currently applicable Dutch anti-money laundering legislation (the Wet ter voorkoming van witwassen en financieren van terrorisme, or the Wwft) to include the following measures:

  • A ban on cash payments of EUR 3000 or more, made by individuals, legal entities or companies acting professionally as a buyer or purchaser of goods.
  • The right to outsource transaction monitoring. Institutions with a legal duty to monitor transactions would be permitted to outsource transaction monitoring to third parties based on a written agreement. This will, in particular, allow for the joint monitoring of transactions by banks.
  • Enhanced exchange of information. Institutions with a legal duty to monitor transactions would be permitted to exchange information with one another in the event of suspected integrity risks. The principle behind this proposal is to avoid a situation where a client who has been rejected by one institution on the basis of integrity risks is accepted by another institution.

This proposal has generally been well-received in the market, with the Dutch Banking Association, for example, in particular welcoming the possibility for institutions to jointly monitor transactions. The bill is currently expected to be discussed in parliament in July 2020. Meanwhile most of the legislation intended to belatedly transpose the fifth AML Directive into Dutch law was adopted in April 2020 and is expected to enter into force shortly after that point.