Sweden’s insurance and pensions lobby has once again told the Ministry of Finance that insurers providing occupational pensions face challenges applying money laundering regulations – the latest of several occasions when it has flagged the issue up to officials, according to the group.

At its meeting on 22 September with the ministry, Insurance Sweden said it spoke again about the problems, in the light of the current discussions at EU level about turning parts of the anti-money laundering directive into a directly-applicable EU regulation.

Johan Lundström, head of legal affairs at Insurance Sweden, told IPE: “The money-laundering rules require that life insurance companies, in the same way as banks and other operators covered by the rules, take customer awareness measures – and one of the most important measures is to identify their customers.”

In the case of a collectively-agreed defined contribution (DC) occupational pension, he said insurance companies in Sweden found it hard to live up to the requirement to identify the customer, because they did not know who the customer (employer) was and could not access this information.

The social partners designed the system so insurance companies did not have direct contact with employers, he said, with the choice of insurance and premium payments being mediated instead by an election centre (valcentral).

In practice, Lundström said, the risk of money laundering in the collective DC pension system was obviously very low because of the regulation around inflows and outflows, and that this analysis had been acknowledged by the government in its bill to parliament.

However, life insurance companies in Sweden still had to be covered by the regulations because the Swedish law was based on minimum harmonisation with EU law, he explained.

“It is to be hoped that the European Commission’s initiative to open up EU regulation on money laundering may bring about some desirable changes for insurance companies,” Lundström said.

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