Cryptocurrency firms in Ireland will soon be regulated in line with the latest European legal framework for the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing.

On Aug. 10, the Cabinet of Ireland approved a bill to transpose the criminal justice elements of the European Union’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) into national law, thereby strengthening existing legislation. 

Approval from the Cabinet gives Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee, the go-ahead to publish the new bill, entitled The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. 

Among other provisions, the bill brings virtual currency providers and online wallet providers for digital currencies under existing AML and counter terrorist financing legislation. An official government note accompanying news of the bill’s publication stated:

“The Minister for Finance has also secured Government Approval to bring forward amendments in respect of the regulation of Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) [...] the amendments will ensure that the necessary registration and fitness and probity regime, required by 5AMLD for virtual asset service providers, become statutory requirements.”

Furthermore, the note indicates that these amendments will also address Ireland’s international obligations, in line with the Financial Action Task Force's regulatory framework for new technologies, products and practices.

In July, the European Court of Justice had fined Ireland 2 million euros ($2.3 million) for its delay in bringing the country’s AML and CFT rules into line with the rest of the bloc. 

AMLD5 first came into force on July 9, 2018, and  gave member states until January 2020 to incorporate the directive into their respective national laws by January  20, 2020.

Announcing the bill this week, Minister McEntee said it was an important step for fighting money-laundering: 

“The reality is that money laundering is a crime that helps serious criminals and terrorists to function, destroying lives in the process. Criminals seek to exploit the EU’s open borders, and EU-wide measures are vital for that reason.”