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Brussels, 15 october 1997

Money laundering: Commission decides to refer case against Austria to the Court of Justice

The Commission has decided to refer to the Court of Justice a matter raised with Austria, where anonymous savings and securities accounts still exist in breach of Directive 91/308/EEC on money laundering. The decision has been taken because Austria has failed to comply with the reasoned opinion sent to it, the infringement proceedings stage preceding referral to the Court under Article 169 of the EC Treaty (see IP/96/557).

The Commission considers, firstly, that the retention of anonymous savings accounts is a flagrant breach of the principle of identification on which Directive 91/308/EEC is based. Secondly, it takes the view that the mechanism created by the August 1996 legislative amendments, through which holders of anonymous securities accounts existing on 1 August 1996 will be identified only in the event of receipt or acquisition of securities, will not lead to the complete and rapid abolition of those accounts. Finally, the Commission considers that the fact that Article 165 of the Austrian Criminal Code, which outlaws money laundering, applies only above a threshold of ATS 100 000 is contrary to the Community Directive. That Directive provides for no such threshold.

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