The new Organic Law on Money Laundering and Crime Financing Prevention, Detection and Eradication1 has brought about important changes with respect to the institutional regime on money laundering and terrorism financing. The National Council against Money Laundering (the "Council") has been substituted – as regulator – with the Monetary and Financial Regulation and Policy Board (the "Board"), which has been given powers somehow different from those of its predecessor, and the Financial Analysis Unit, now designated as the Financial and Economic Analysis Unit ("UAFE"), has greater autonomy and new powers.
The Board will be the highest body to control, supervise and regulate matters relating to money laundering and terrorism financing. The Board includes the Ministers for Economic Policy, Production, and Public Finances, the head for State Planning, and a delegate from the President of the Republic. Therefore, it is expected that the new money laundering prevention and terrorism financing policies will be more coherent with the State's economic-financial policy. Regarding its functions, the Board plays a less administrative role than the Council. For instance, the Board does not represent the State on international organizations under instruments executed for those matters.
From an administrative standpoint, UAFE has greater autonomy (the Law states that it has operational, administrative and financial autonomy) although it is attached to the Ministry for Economic Policy Coordination. Most importantly, once the Law was enacted, UAFE is able to designate new obliged parties other than those established in the norm, and must appear as a litigant in criminal proceedings regarding these matters or originating from reports of unusual and unjustified operations.
Finally, the following are among the most relevant operational changes:
- The report on unusual and unjustified operations must be delivered within four days instead of two days (Article 4).
- In the event of an extension to answer specific requirements, three days are allowed instead of fifteen days (Article 6).
- Changes in the punishable regime and in appeals (Articles 21-24).
- Minimum and maximum fines were cut down from $500 to one basic salary, and from $20,000 to 30 basic salaries (currently $ 9,600 approximately).
- The Financial and Economic Unit will impose fines that can be challenged before its Director.
- Appeals and extraordinary recourses will be resolved by each applicable regulator and, if no applicable regulator exists, by UAFE itself which will impose a temporary or definitive suspension, as the case may be.
- Notices of infringements and communications are to be delivered through the e-mail only.
1 Published in Official Register Supplement No. 802 dated July 21, 2016.
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