With the Act Amending EU Provisions in Financial Laws (EU-FinAnpG 2019; EU-Finanz-Anpassungsgesetz 2019), published in Federal Law Gazette I No. 62/2019) Austria transposed Directive (EU) 2018/843 (5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive) into national law. Among other laws, the Financial Markets Anti-Money Laundering Act (FM-GwG) has been amended. With the entry into force of the aforementioned act the FMA has become the competent authority for the registration and ongoing supervision of service providers in relation to virtual currencies with regard to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Article 2 no. 21 FM-GwG defines virtual currencies as “a digital representation of value that is not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or a public authority, is not necessarily attached to a legally established currency and does not possess a legal status of currency or money, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of exchange and which can be transferred, stored and traded electronically.”
Providers in relation to virtual currencies are defined in Article 2 no. 22 FM-GwG as all providers (i.e. both natural persons and legal entities) that offer one or more of the following services:
Pursuant to Article 32a FM-GwG providers in relation to virtual currencies intending to provide their activity in Austria or to offer the service from Austria, are required to submit a registration to the FMA beforehand.
The legal provisions regarding the registration of providers in relation to virtual currencies enter into force on 01.10.2019 – registration applications may therefore be submitted to the FMA from then onwards. The legal obligation to register exists with effect from 10.01.2020.
The registration application must be submitted to the FMA in electronic form to the e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For natural persons as providers
For legal entities as providers
The FMA reserves the right to obtain additional information and documentation during the registration procedure in relation to the description of the business model as well as the description of the internal control system for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
A fee is charged for the processing of the registration of providers in relation to virtual currencies pursuant to Article 32a FM-GwG. The notification about the registration having been performed is in the form of an administrative decision. Thereafter ongoing supervision costs apply for registered providers.
Registrations are published on the FMA website. Once registered the provider is entered into the FMA’s Company Database.
As a result of the registration providers in relation to virtual currencies become obliged entities under the FM-GwG. The FMA will check compliance with the provisions in the FM-GwG as well as Regulation (EU) 2015/847 on information accompanying transfers of funds as part of its ongoing supervisory activities.
It should be noted in this regard that the FMA’s ongoing supervision relates solely to the observance of the provisions of the FM-GwG as well as Regulation (EU) 2015/847 on information accompanying transfers of funds.
For those services in relation to virtual currencies that are not performed in Austria, the respective national provisions must also be taken into consideration.