TALLINN (Reuters) - Estonia said on Friday it was planning to toughen anti-money laundering rules by forcing people suspected of benefiting from suspicious financial transactions to prove their wealth came from legitimate sources.
Up to now, prosecutors have been forced to show that wealth was illegally obtained, but the proposal will put the burden of proof on the suspect. Similar legislation is in force in Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Slovakia.
“This would mean that there is a real danger of losing one’s assets when attempting to launder money through the Estonian financial system,” Finance Minister Toomas Toniste said in a statement.
Estonia has been under the regulatory spotlight after Denmark’s Danske Bank said payments totaling 200 billion euros ($229.90 billion), many of which it described as “suspicious”, had been moved through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.
Earlier this month, U.S. authorities launched an investigation into Danske’s activities in Estonia.
Estonia’s Anti-Money Laundering Commission has been tasked with drawing up a set of proposals on strengthening anti-money laundering (AML) legislative measures, which is due to be presented to the government in October.
The October proposals to the government will also report on the actions of the financial regulator, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the prosecution authority in relation to their actions in the Danske Bank case.
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Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Simon Johnson and Louise Heavens