On 4th of July 2022 in the Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia, new Law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism was published. This law enters into force on the eighth day from the day of publication, that is, starting from 12.07.2022. With this version, North Macedonia took a step closer to the AML regulation applicable in the EU.
In accordance with the EU Directive 2018/843, this law enables for regulation of crypto sphere from the aspect of the risks of money laundering and financing of terrorism as one of the significant risks associated with virtual or crypto assets, considering their pseudo-anonymity. The law establishes obligations for service providers related to virtual assets to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing by control mechanisms in case of potential abuse of virtual or crypto assets. In this sense, trading of virtual assets with cash will be allowed only in the amount of up to EUR 500 in accordance with the strategies for fight and reduction of gray economy. However, the law prohibits service providers from trading fully anonymous virtual assets known as privacy coins, as well as using software tools to anonymize and interfere with virtual asset transactions.
The Financial Intelligence Office shall act as supervisory authority over the operation of the service providers related to virtual assets from aspects related to prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, accordingly each service provider will be obliged to notify the Financial Intelligence Office that it is engaged in this business activity within 30 days from the day of adoption of the by-laws prescribed by this law. The obligation for the providers of services related to virtual assets is to notify the Financial Intelligence Office for the exchange of virtual assets or money in the amount of EUR 1,000.
Nine months period transitory period is allowed to the service providers related to virtual assets to fully comply with the provisions of this law. Apart from regulation of virtual assets, some of the major changes in the law are as follows:
- New obligations to take measures and actions to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing are established for persons who trade or act as intermediaries in trade of works of art, including art galleries or auction houses and providers of services related to virtual assets;
- The approach to non-profit organizations is redefined, i.e. enhanced measures of analysis are applying to nonprofit organizations which are determined according to the national risk assessment, as well as according to the carried out risk assessment towards a certain non-profit organizations.
The law further provides more specific provisions, EU compliant, with respect to client identification, UBO analysis and registration with UBO registry, as well regarding enhanced AML analysis. The competences of the Financial Intelligence Office are specified and international cooperation of the office with other competent authorities and financial intelligence units is regulated. The law promotes digitized work processes, as well as exchange of information and data via protected electronic means or through the National Platform for Interoperability.