Faced critical evaluation in 2022

Bulgaria now complies with global anti-money laundering standards, says Moneyval

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Bulgaria’s fortified anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, which include greater oversight of the gambling sector, now comply with international standards, according to a follow-up report by Moneyval, a Council of Europe oversight body.

The report underscores Bulgaria's significant strides in combating money laundering and terrorism financing since a critical evaluation in 2022. Two years ago, Moneyval placed Bulgaria under compliance-enhancing procedures, necessitating the country's collaboration with the Council of Europe to address AML deficiencies.

Moneyval's latest assessment reveals that Bulgaria is now fully or largely compliant with 13 out of 40 applicable Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. The country meets at least partial compliance for the remaining 27 recommendations. Full compliance areas include customer due diligence for designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), such as the gambling and casino sectors, real estate, and legal services.

“Since the adoption of its mutual evaluation report in May 2022, Bulgaria has taken numerous steps to strengthen its anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing systems,” Moneyval stated.

To further bolster its AML framework, Bulgaria established a new AML unit within its National Revenue Agency (NRA) last year. This unit enforces comprehensive AML requirements, including customer verification, document collection, and risk assessments for money laundering and terrorist financing. It also monitors suspicious operations, transactions, and customers, and shares relevant information with international authorities.

The NRA took over gambling regulation in 2020 after the disbandment of the State Commission on Gambling. The creation of the AML unit followed Bulgaria's national money laundering risk assessment, which identified significant vulnerabilities across various sectors.

The Bulgarian gambling market continues to grow, with projections suggesting it will generate BGN200 million ($111.7 million) for the national budget in 2024. Over the past two years, gambling has contributed more than BGN300 million in taxes and fees to the state budget. 

Recent modifications to Bulgaria's tax structure, including a 300% increase in licensing fees and a rise in income tax from 15% to 20%, are expected to further enhance financial contributions from the gambling sector.

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