Ireland enacts law to set up central database of accounts and safe-deposit boxes

Thursday, 17 February 2022
Ireland's finance ministry has signed into law a regulation paving the way for a central database of payment accounts, bank accounts and safe-deposit boxes.
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The regulation, mandated by the EU Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (4AMLD), applies to all credit institutions in Ireland, including banks and class 1 investment firms. Ireland is 18 months behind the EU's prescribed implementation schedule for 4AMLD and the Central Bank of Ireland has not definitely fixed the roll-out date.

When it does, financial institutions (FIs) will have to provide certain information. For bank and payment accounts, FIs will have to provide the name and address (and date of birth of individuals) of the customer-account holder and of its beneficial owners, together with the IBAN, account name, account-opening date and, if applicable, the account-closing date. For safe-deposit boxes, the name and address (and date of birth) of the lessee must be provided. Banks and FIs have not been allowed to establish or maintain anonymous safe-deposit boxes since the EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) was transposed in 2021.

The information provided will be retained for at least five years after the account is closed or the lease on the safe-deposit box expires. There will also be a mechanism to enable Ireland's financial intelligence unit (FIU) to search the information and share its findings with other financial intelligence bodies across the EU, although not with the general public.

The 4AMLD also required the European Commission (EC) to prepare a report on how these centralised automated mechanisms could be interconnected across EU Member States. A report published in 2019 noted that further consultation with financial intelligence bodies and other stakeholders such as end-users would be needed first.

Since then, the EC has launched a new anti-money laundering (AML) action plan, which is still in the initial stages of its progress through the EU legislative process. Interconnection of the national registers may not happen for some time. At the same time, the European Banking Authority launched a central database for AML and countering the financing of terrorism on 31 January 2022. The database will contain information on material weaknesses in individual FIs that make them vulnerable to money laundering.

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