World The Principality toughens the law with more controls to...

The Principality toughens the law with more controls to fight against money laundering

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648x415 drapeau monaco illustration

The flag of Monaco (illustration). – Mario FOURMY/SIPA

  • In Monaco, a lot of money circulates, including in cash. In a country with 30% of millionaire residents attracted by soft taxation, such cash payments are common.
  • Since January, for any cash transaction from 10,000 euros, traders are required to exercise vigilance.
  • On the police side, the staff assigned to the financial investigations section has doubled in six years with 13 investigators for 188 files opened in 2020, against 96 in 2015.

In Monaco, a lot of money circulates, including in cash. To combat money laundering, the Principality has tightened up the law and controls, but “tangible” judicial results take a long time to obtain.

Since January, for any cash transaction from 10,000 euros, traders are required to exercise vigilance. In a country with 30% of millionaire residents attracted by soft taxation, such cash payments are common. The law now requires to verify the identity of the buyer and to make a declaration of suspicion in case of doubt about the origin of the funds, even to verify the “socio-economic background” of the customer when he is ‘it is about an ongoing business relationship.

A significant proportion of foreign stakeholders

The ceiling for cash payments remains at 30,000 euros but, from 2022, anyone entering or leaving the Principality with 10,000 euros or more in cash (which includes precious metals such as gold) may be subject to police investigations and precautionary seizures if the provenance is doubtful.

The large proportion of foreign workers in Monaco complicates the files. If justice has sanctioned in recent years Italians who came in the 2000s to launder their money, in particular the wife of a deputy and two big players from the casino, sentenced to a minimum of one year in prison and the confiscation of funds , many cases end with an acquittal, as in February for a Russian oligarch, a former deputy.

“The prosecutions are made, the investigations also but it is complex, transnational and the procedure, it is long, the lawyers feast”, observes the Attorney General Sylvie Petit-Leclair.

Twice as many investigators in six years

On the police side, the staff assigned to the financial investigations section has doubled in six years with 13 investigators for 188 files opened in 2020, against 96 in 2015.

“There is a not insignificant proportion of requests for assistance from abroad, about half, that we try to execute quickly, in a few months,” said the head of the judicial police Jean-François Mirigay. “We do not have in Monaco for the moment any files linked to terrorism but Monaco, a financial center, has obligations. […] The aim is to show that Monaco has nothing to hide, ”he said.

Following the G20 in London in 2009, Monaco embarked on a tax transparency effort which had enabled it to leave the “gray list” of non-cooperative countries drawn up by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) .

Since 2016, more than sixty bilateral tax cooperation agreements have been concluded, funds freezes are recurrent and the list of those subject to declarations of suspicion has become very long (jewelers, dealers, yachting, sports agents). It includes since 2020 the merchants of good and the platforms of cryptocurrency and digital assets.

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