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France: EU Directives on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Transposed

(Mar. 5, 2009) The French government recently issued Ordinance 2009-104 of January 30, 2009, which transposes into national law the EU Directive on the Prevention of the Use of the Financial System for the Purpose of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, known as the “third money laundering directive,” and the EU Directive that implements it (Directive 2005/60/EC, Oct. 26, 2005, & Directive 2006/70/EC, Aug. 1, 2006). The government decided to restructure parts of the Monetary and Financial Code instead of simply amending previous laws and regulations on this subject. The Ordinance reinforces the customer due diligence obligation owed by the institutions or persons listed in the previous legislation, including, for example, credit and financial institutions, auditors, accountants, real estate agents, attorneys, and casinos. The Ordinance only adds to the existing list the sociétés de domiciliation (companies that provide domiciliary services).

The reporting obligation, which until the adoption of the 2009 Ordinance covered transactions linked to drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud against the financial interests of the European Union, corruption, or organized criminal activities of criminal organizations, is now extended to all fraud punishable by at least one year of imprisonment. Fiscal fraud, therefore, will be included.

The Ordinance also creates a Commission, the Commission Nationale des Sanctions, to insure that certain categories of professionals that do not have a supervisory body comply with their obligations. The Commission may impose sanctions ranging from disciplinary sanctions to a fine of up to €5,000,000 (about US$6.4 million). (Ordonnance 2009-104 du 30 janvier 2009 relative à la prévention de l'utilisation du système financier aux fins de blanchiment de capitaux et de financement du terrorisme, JOURNAL OFFICIEL [Official Gazette of France], Jan. 31, 2009, at 1819.)