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EU to trace crypto assets to prevent money laundering, terror financing

The European Union (EU) lawmakers have passed a new legislation for tracing transfers of crypto assets like Bitcoin in the same way as traditional money transfers to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and other crimes.

The negotiators reached a provisional deal on a new bill aiming to ensure that crypto transfers can always be traced and suspicious transactions blocked.

“This new regulation strengthens the European framework to fight money-laundering, reduces the risks of fraud and makes crypto-asset transactions more secure,” said Ernest Urtasun, co-rapporteur for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

The EU travel rule will ensure that crypto assets service providers can prevent and detect sanctioned addresses and that transfers of crypto-assets are fully traceable, Urtasun said in a statement.

The agreement extends the so-called “travel rule”, already existing in traditional finance, to cover transfers in crypto assets.

This rule requires that information on the source of the asset and its beneficiary travels with the transaction and is stored on both sides of the transfer.

“Crypto-assets service providers (CASPs) will be obliged to provide this information to competent authorities if an investigation is conducted into money laundering and terrorist financing,” read the new legistaltion.

Before making the crypto-assets available to beneficiaries, providers will have to verify that the source of the asset is not subject to restrictive measures or sanctions, and there are no risks of money laundering or terrorism financing.

The rules would also cover transactions from so-called un-hosted wallets (a crypto-asset wallet address that is in the custody of a private user) when they interact with hosted wallets managed by CASPs.

In case a customer sends or receives more than 1000 euros to or from their own un-hosted wallet, the CASP will need to verify whether the un-hosted wallet is effectively owned or controlled by this customer.

The new rules do not apply to person-to-person transfers conducted without a provider, such as bitcoins trading platforms, or among providers acting on their own behalf.

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