Money laundering prevention in Estonia

Several organisations’ functions include the prevention of money laundering in Estonia.
Ministry of Finance is responsible for general policy, legislation and coordination of the activities in this area.

Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is an independent structural unit of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. Financial Intelligence Unit analyses and verifies information about suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing, taking measures for preservation of property where necessary and immediately forwarding materials to the competent authorities upon detection of elements of a criminal offence

The Prosecutor's Office, Security Police, Tax and Customs Board and courts in Estonia are working actively to identify the criminals and establish appropriate legal liabilities if necessary.

Financial Supervision Authority is responsible for stability, reliability and transparency of the financial sector of Estonia. As money laundering and terrorist financing is directly connected with stability and reliability of the financial sector, the Financial Supervision Authority exercises supervision in this field as well.

Governmental committee for the coordination of money laundering prevention was established to promote the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The Committee is chaired by the Minister of Finance. Representatives from ministries, Tax and Customs Board, The Prosecutor's Office, police, Bank of Estonia and Financial Supervision Authority are members of this Committee. Committee meetings took as often as needed, but at least once in four months.

Advisory Committee of Market Participants was created to channel information and enhance communications regarding the situation in market and to listen to the proposals of market participants. The main aim of the Advisory Committee is to raise the awareness of entrepreneurs and give them an opportunity to be involved in developing the legislation. The members of the Advisory Committee are representatives from different associations of entrepreneurs and other obligated persons. The committee is serviced by the Ministry of Finance.

Also important for the money laundering prevention are the law-abiding citizens of Estonia, especially those who are engaged in the financial sector.

According to the Anti Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act which took effect in 28th January 2008, the number of obligated persons who are required to inform the Financial Intelligence Unit if cash transactions of large value are made, has increased. For example, banks, entrepreneurs providing financial services and organisers of games of chance are defined as obligated persons. But also those who carry out or act as intermediaries in transactions with real estate, pawnbrokers, auditors and entrepreneurs who provide accounting or consulting services.

Obligated persons are considered any trader if a cash payment of at least 15 000 EUR or an equal amount in another currency is made, regardless of whether the financial obligation is performed in a lump sum or in several related payments.

In some cases notaries, lawyers, bailiffs, trustees in bankruptcy etc, ought to follow the requirements of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act. In order to enable identification of a natural person or a representative of a legal person, entrepreneurs may ask more information when a contractual relationship is based on a long-term contract or a transaction of a large sum would be made.

Obligated persons, except credit institutions, must inform Financial Intelligence Unit about every transaction where a cash payment of at least 32 000 EUR or an equal amount in another currency is made. Credit institutions have this kind of notification obligation only if providing currency exchange services.

Entrepreneurs have to be registered in the Register of Economic Activities. Financial institutions which are not subject to supervision by the Financial Supervision Authority have to register themselves in Register of Economic Activities. Entrepreneurs who provide services like SMS-loans and other types of loans, pawnbrokers and currency exchange offices have to make the registration as well in order to provide their services in Estonia.

Please find further information on the website of Ministry of Finance