Italy’s Central Bank Addresses ECB, Clarifies Bitcoin’s Legal Status

Italy's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an organ of the Central Bank in charge of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, issued a statement warning digital currency businesses to stay vigilant regarding suspicious activities due to the lack of AML/KYC requirements for Italian companies.

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Italy’s Central Bank Addresses ECB, Clarifies Bitcoin’s Legal Status

Italy's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an organ of the Central Bank in charge of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, issued a statement warning digital currency businesses to stay vigilant regarding suspicious activities due to the lack of AML/KYC requirements for Italian companies.

In light of previous statements issued by the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Banking Authority (EBA), and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the FIU made a public announcement on February 2, emphasizing on the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing that are facing 'virtual currency' businesses.

While Italian businesses involved in digital currencies such as Bitcoin are not required to comply with AML/KYC measures, the FIU encourages companies, most particular exchanges, to be extremely prudent and self-disciplined, in order to monitor appropriately and independently report any activity they deemed suspicious.

The document reads:

"[Providers] of functional activities with the use, exchange and storage of virtual currencies, their conversion from/in legal currencies are not, as such, [subjects to] money laundering legislation and therefore are not required to comply with the obligations of adequate verification of customers, data recording and reporting of suspicious transactions.

In order to prevent the use of the economic and financial system for money laundering and terrorist financing, the recipients of the Legislative Decree no. 231/2007 must take care to identify the operations involved with virtual currencies [and detect] any suspicious element."

Particularly financial intermediary, especially those providing payment services, must evaluate the operations of withdrawal and/or payment in cash as well as payment cards movements, related to the purchase and/or selling of digital currencies. Such operations must be examined while taking into account the profile of the customer, as well as the involvement of countries or territories at risk.

Suspicious transactions and activities must be reported to the FIU as soon as possible, with the appropriate information and evidences, said the authority.

It concluded:

"It is the responsibility of the persons required to reporting requirements, as part of its organizational autonomy and in the manner deemed most appropriate, to raise awareness among staff and the team responsible for the evaluation of suspicious transactions, and spread appropriate practical measures."


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