2021-01-11 17:00:00

Extremists may take advantage of new anti-money laundering regulations for religious organizations - State Duma committee

Moscow, January 11, Interfax - The State Duma Financial Markets Committee has supported a bill that gives banks, insurance companies and other organizations working with money the right not to identify beneficiaries of religious organizations, but warns about possible risks of the use of the projected regulations by extremist organizations.

The committee has requested more materials.

The committee's resolution on the government bill has been published in the parliament's electronic database.

The committee said in its resolution that religious organizations have not been classed by sectoral risk evaluation as organizations at high risk in the sphere of prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism, saying that the committee supports the conception of the bill. "In the meantime, the committee expresses concerns about the possibility of the use of the projected regulations by extremist religious organizations. In this regard, we believe it is reasonable to request additional analytical materials on the evaluation of the consequences of the introduction of the proposed regulation," the resolution said.

According to earlier reports, the bill was submitted to the State Duma by the government in late November.

The amendments amend the law on the prevention of money laundering. Article 7 of this law obligates banks to take measures to identify beneficiary owners of clients that are substantiated and accessible under the circumstances. Identification of beneficiary owners of clients is not conducted if a client is a body of state authority, a state corporation or a state company with state capital of more than 50%, a company trading at an exchange. The document proposes including in the exception religious organizations, as well as legal entities that produce or sell religious-purpose objects and religious literature if their sole founder is a religious organization.

The beneficiary ownership criteria often do not apply to religious organizations in accordance with the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism and the risks of money laundering are low, the authors said.

If adopted, the document will take effect on the day of its official publication.

According to the Justice Ministry, 31,630 organizations of various religions (Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Shamanism, etc.) are registered in Russia.

The first reading of the bill is scheduled to be held at a plenary session of the State Duma on January 19.