Letter to the Editor- from the European Commission

 

Sir, – Europe Correspondent Naomi O’Leary, (Opinion, July 21st) raises important questions on the fight against money laundering, following the adoption by the European Commission of tougher measures to address a global problem. Specifically, the article raises questions about the proposal to bring an end to the total anonymity that crypto currencies currently enjoy.

The European Union has the strongest rules in the world to protect the personal data of citizens. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has set the benchmark for data privacy and security. Personal data may be processed only if there are legitimate grounds to do so. These include consent by the data subject (consumer), meeting legal or contractual obligations and the performance of a task carried out in the public interest as set out in the GDPR.

Due diligence on customers falls within these grounds. However, even in such cases, compliance with the GDPR is required.

Crypto-asset service providers, just like other service providers offering transfer of funds services, handle sensitive data. They must have the organisation, governance and means in place to ensure the integrity of their services, and handle and protect the data in their custody.

All the above is set out in law: even when data processing is legitimate to fight money laundering, the data processors are still bound by all the obligations of data protection legislation.

The GDPR specifically recognises that the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is of overarching public interest, which justifies the processing of personal data to check that no illicit funds are moved around.

Furthermore, the commission proposal is fully aligned in this area with the key standards of the Financial Action Task Force, the body that sets global standards for fighting money laundering.

The proposal put forward by the commission strikes a balance between protecting the privacy of individuals and having the tools to fight money laundering effectively. The bottom line is that whatever way you pay or receive money, whether in euros or crypto assets, the same anti-money laundering rules should apply.

– Yours, etc,

BARBARA NOLAN

Head of Representation

European Commission,

Representation in Ireland

Dublin 2.