[Morocco] Act No.12-18 amending and supplementing the criminal code and act N°43-05 on money laundering

To consolidate the legal framework in relation to the fight against money laundering and terrorism funding, and further to the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Act No. 12-18, amending and supplementing the Criminal Code and Act No. 43-05 related to the fight against anti-money laundering (the “Act“) was promulgated on June 14th, 2021. The Act aims at strengthening the penalty framework already implemented.

In this regard, in compliance with international regulations requiring that penalties related to money laundering should be sufficiently dissuasive, the main contributions of the Act can be summarised as follows:

  • Increase of the threshold for applicable fines: the Act aims at increasing both the minimum and maximum amount of fines imposed on natural persons guilty of money laundering acts as well as the seizure of all income derived from these acts. The Act thus provides for a fine amounting to between 50,000 and 500,000 dirhams for any act of money laundering committed by natural persons[1].
  • Addition of new offences within the definition of money laundering acts[2]: these include infringements committed on the financial markets intending to affect prices, infringements undermining automated data processing systems, infringements related to the spreading of misleading information on financial instruments and their development, as well as infringements related to the sale and provision of services provided in a pyramid scheme or in any other similar manner.
  • Reinforcement of internal control and vigilance measures: the Act reinforces vigilance and internal control measures. It also establishes rules for accreditation of third parties to implement the provisions relating to the identification of the customer and the beneficial owner[3].
  • Implementation of new disciplinary sanctions: the Act further introduces new disciplinary sanctions, such as a regularisation order, suspension, prohibition or withdrawal of accreditation.

Written by Ali Bougrine, Rim Tazi and Mohamed Sadek.

[1] Article 1 of the Act
[2] See for instance Art. 574-2 of the Criminal Code
[3] Lavieeco, « Lutte contre le blanchiment des capitaux : le projet de loi adopté en Conseil de gouvernement », 29 Nov, 2019