New legislation on the prevention of money laundering, antitrust and consumer protection
The entry into force of Royal Decree Law 7/2021 transposes into national law several European regulations that affect, among other matters, the prevention of money laundering, competition law and consumer protection.
On 29 April last, Royal Decree-Law 7/2021, of 27 April, on the transposition of European Union directives in the areas of competition, prevention of money laundering, credit institutions, telecommunications, tax measures, prevention and repair of environmental damage, posting of workers in the provision of transnational services and consumer protection, came into force, which means the introduction of novelties in Spanish law in the respective regulations affecting the aforementioned areas. This article will focus on the most relevant amendments relating to the prevention of money laundering, competition law and consumer protection. As regards new developments in the prevention of money laundering, the RDL amends various articles of Law 10/2010, of 28 April, on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the most relevant of which are summarised below:
- New obliged parties are introduced, with providers of services for the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency, as well as providers of electronic wallet custody services, now being considered as obliged parties. These parties will be obliged to register in a register set up for this purpose by the Banco de España.
- The consideration of obliged parties is also extended to real estate developers, agents and intermediaries involved in property leases involving a transaction for an annual rent of at least 120,000 euros or a monthly rent of 10.10,000; for any person who undertakes to provide directly or through other related persons material help, assistance or advice in tax matters as a principal business or professional activity; for persons acting as intermediaries in the trade in art objects and antiques, and persons storing or trading in such objects or acting as intermediaries when carried out in free ports; and for payment institutions and natural and legal persons referred to in Articles 14 and 15 of RDL 19/2018, of 23 November, on payment services and other urgent measures in financial matters.
- With regard to identification obligations on the part of obliged parties in terms of business relations and non-face-to-face transactions, the identity of the customer will be considered to be accredited by means of a qualified electronic signature in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EU) 910/2014, and it will not be necessary to obtain a copy of the document in question.
- Measures are created to reinforce the system for identifying the beneficial owners of legal persons and unincorporated entities whose effective address or main activity is in Spain, through the obligation for these entities to obtain, update and keep the information relating to their beneficial ownership, providing it to the relevant authorities and obliged parties and keeping it for a period of 10 years after the status of beneficial owner is extinguished. It also creates a single beneficial ownership registry system to which all competent authorities and obliged parties, as well as, subject to certain limitations, any other interested party, will have access.
With regard to the amendments affecting the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws, it is worth highlighting:
- The concept of digital content and services is introduced, including within the scope of application of the Consumer and User Protection Act those contracts by virtue of which the entrepreneur undertakes to provide such digital content and services to the user and the user undertakes to provide his or her personal data. In this respect, it is particularly important to eliminate the requirement for the consumer or user to pay a price to the entrepreneur in order for the relationship between the two parties to be covered by the provisions of the law.
- The legal guarantee period for products is extended, with the consumer being entitled to express his or her lack of conformity with the products delivered within a period of 3 years from the delivery of the goods by the trader, whereas the previous wording set a period of two years. For digital content or services, the period is two years.
With regard to the novelties introduced in Law 15/2007, of 3 July 2007, on the Defence of Competition, of particular relevance is the reinforcement of the powers of the National Commission for Markets and Competition, extending the duties of collaboration on the part of companies and broadening its inspection powers. In addition, certain infringements are made more serious, such as obstructing CNMC investigations, which is now considered serious (5% of annual turnover); and any infringement of articles 1 and 2 of the Law on the Defence of Competition, which is considered very serious (10% of annual turnover). Fines are imposed on the total worldwide business of the sanctioned company. AddVANTE has a team with extensive professional experience at our clients’ disposal to advise them on any corporate and commercial matter.