Austria: Crypto Firms Face €200K Fine Under New AML Directive
Crypto businesses in Austria can be fined up to 200,000 EUR (above $221,000) starting from tomorrow, if they do not operate under the country’s new licensing requirements.
Austria’s FMA Calls Crypto Firms to be Counted
Austria, one of the more liberal countries when it comes to crypto trading, will require all operators within the country to register with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA). License applications must prove the business has sufficient liquidity, resources and performs due diligence, or face the hefty penalty fine.
The Austrian FMA has enforced the rules in a recent legal notice. The new regulations will affect activities related to ‘”the issuance and selling of virtual currencies as well as transferring them, trading and exchange platforms for them (irrespective of where virtual currencies are to be exchanged between one another or for legal tender payment instruments or vice versa) as well as providers of custodian wallets.”
The requirements may be especially hefty for small-scale exchanges and brokerages operating in the country. Austrians have access to some of the leading European exchanges, including Kraken and Bitstamp, which have already achieved the highest level of compliance. Bitpanda, the brokerage company, has also operated with a money-manager license.
The exact number of crypto operations in Austria is unknown, as small-scale brokerages have existed for years. International exchanges, which are open to EU-based traders, may also have to comply with a new set of rules and register with both local country-specific authorities, and on the EU-wide level.
AMLD5 Comes with Much Stricter Regulations
The reason for the stricter tracking of cryptocurrency service providers is to comply with the set of measures known as AMLD5. The EU-wide regulations come into force on January 10, 2020, and will require much more detailed reporting. The chief aim is to avoid terrorism financing, and avoid the hiding of personal wealth as revealed in the recent Panama Papers breech.
Exchanges are already performing some of the required operations, such as customer screening, or KYC when taking in new clients. Other requirements include a transparent data on company ownership. Firms will have to supply evidence they are not working with sanctioned territories, and be ready to provide transaction and money checks.
The AMLD5 requirements arrive as a response to the Financial Action Task Force set of proposals. The FATF guidelines are expected to keep shaping the crypto space throughout the course of 2020, affecting exchanges worldwide.
The changed regulations within the EU will mean additional reporting requirements for exchanges based in Malta, where Binance built its new central.
What do you think about the latest Austrian and EU-wide regulations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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