Amendments to the AML Act – changes in the Polish virtual currency market

AML stands for anti-money laundering, and its main task is to protect the financial system from being used for criminal purposes. Currently, the virtual currency market is one of the fastest growing in the world. Unfortunately, they are often used for illegal purposes. To prevent this, on May 15, 2021 an amendment to the AML Act entered into force.

Act of March 1, 2018 on counteracting money laundering and financing of terrorism – Polish regulations

The Polish act regulating the issue at hand is the Act of March 1, 2018 on counteracting money laundering and financing of terrorism. Directive 2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council was implemented, amending Directive 2015/849, i.e. AML5. Entities that are legally obliged to implement anti-money laundering procedures are institutions that provide the following services: exchanges between virtual currencies, exchanges between virtual currencies and means of payment, intermediation in the above exchanges. In the event that the previously determined data concerning the client or real beneficiary has changed and the institution was obliged during a given calendar year under the provisions of law to contact the client in order to verify information on beneficial owners, AML financial security measures are applied.

Registration in the register of activities in the field of virtual currencies as a new obligation

In the amendment to the abovementioned act, a register of activities in the field of virtual currencies was created. This register will be kept in an electronic form, similar to the Central Register of Real Beneficiaries. Thus, from the moment of entry into force of the amendment, this area of the market is a regulated activity (in accordance with the Polish Entrepreneurs’ Law). Entrepreneurs must provide their name and surname, registry number and tax number and indicate the type of services provided. Entry in the register takes place within 14 days (if the provided data is true), and each entity conducting such activity is obliged to register in the register of activities in the field of virtual currencies within 6 months (from the date of entry into force of the act). It also has to meet certain conditions – the first is the requirement of no criminal record for a crime against the activities of state institutions and local government, against the administration of justice, credibility of documents, economic turnover, property, property interests in civil law transactions, trading in money and securities, as well as for a fiscal crime (intentional), a crime committed for the purpose of obtaining material or personal gain, or the crime of financing terrorism. The second is having the right competencies in the field. The entity is required to complete courses on legal or practical issues related to virtual currency activities or to perform (at least for one year) related activities.

However, the European Commission continues to create new regulations. Recently, it proposed a Draft Regulation on the Crypto Assets Market (the so-called MiCA Regulation). This is not surprising due to the growing popularity and the enormous risk posed by the virtual currencies market. Accordingly, the establishment of such a register will help prevent money laundering and terrorist financing offences.