TIRANA, August 14
The latest Basel AML Index hit the headlines on Friday because it ranked Albania second among the European major money laundering destinations. Meanwhile, the country ranked 44th in the global ranking with a risk score of 5.69. While each country has different risks, Albania performed poorly for the quality of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) frameworks.
However, a law on beneficial ownership register could help to improve the situation. The law on “The Register of Beneficial Owners” was published on the Official Gazette and will come into effect by the end of August (15 days from publication).
Therefore, starting from the last days of the month every subject or juridical person registered in Albania, except for a few categories, will have to identify beneficial owners. According to the new law, the names of those who own at least 25 percent shares of companies registered in tax havens and operate activities in Albania will become public. Moreover, the law defines that those who fail to comply with the rules will be subject to fines. For example, those who will not make the initial registration within the defined deadline are going to be fined Lek 500,000. Fines for other breaches vary from Lek 150,000 to Lek 250,000.
Those fines equal the price per square meter in some high-end commercial/residential developments in Tirana. Property investment is a popular method to launder ill-gotten gains in Albania.
Based on the new draft-law, the register will be managed by the National Business Center. Moreover, anyone who has an allowed interest can access the information provided by the register.
Beneficial ownership is a term used for anyone that has property rights or control a legal entity such as a company, a trust, or a foundation. In general, the creation of accessible registries of company beneficial ownership is used in other countries as a measure against money laundering. The register also helps to stop tax avoidance, to stop the use of money for illegal activities and terrorism financing, and to alleviate poverty.
Source: The Official Gazette, baselgovernance.org