Beneficial Owners Registry: Important Updates Requiring Consideration
Pursuant to the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering Activities Law (the “AML Law”), which transposes into national legislation the 4thEU AML Directive ((EU) 2015/849), companies and other legal entities must maintain and register, in a central public register to be created for this purpose, information on their beneficial owners.
The AML Law provides that the particulars, the creation and operation of the relevant register, the process and entitlement to access thereto, shall be determined by separate regulations to be issued under the AML Law.
No relevant regulations have yet been issued. However, on 16 December 2020, the Council of Ministers, acting on the proposal of the Advisory Authority for Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, decided to:
- appoint the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry (the “Registrar of Companies”), as the competent authority for the maintenance of the central register of real beneficiaries of companies and other legal entities; and
- authorise the Registrar of Companies to collect information about the real beneficiaries of companies and other legal entities through the interim system solution that has been developed.
Based on the above, the Registrar of Companies announced that thestarting datefor collection of relevant data for companies is set for Monday, 22 February 2021.
Companies will be granted a period of six months for reportingtheirbeneficial owners in the system developed for this purpose by the Registrar of Companies. Further guidance on the reporting process and the link for submitting the data are expected to be made available by the Registrar of Companies in due course.
It is noted that the system currently developed constitutes an interim solutionand thataccessto the same will only be grantedto competent authorities upon relevant requestto the Registrar of Companies.
The information collected will ultimately be transferred to thefinal system solution, expected to be developed during the second half of 2021. Access to the final system will be open to the public, in line with the provisions of the 5thEU AML Directive ((EU 2018/843) which is expected to be transposed into the AML Law in the coming weeks.
It is reminded that, pursuant to the AML Law, the term “beneficial owner” covers, in relation to a company, the natural person who ultimately owns or controls the same through direct or indirect ownership of a sufficient percentage (set in the AML Law as more than 25%) of the shares or voting rights or ownership interest therein.
Our team remains available to advise further on the steps which should be taken for compliance with the above requirements and to provide any relevant assistance required.