Beneficial ownership registers

As of 10 January 2020, the EU Member States must bring into force the laws and regulations transposing the provisions of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, as such, they should set up the beneficial ownership registers for corporates.

At the end of 2018, the Council of the European Union adopted an amendment to Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing (the “Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive”). The adoption of the amendment was accompanied with severe disputes and it was ambiguously welcomed.

The Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive significantly changed the former regulatory framework, providing the Member States with more effective and comprehensive legal instruments in the fight for transparency. For this purpose, amongst other obligations, Member States must establish a national register of beneficial ownership information that covers businesses, trusts and other partnerships. The information on each member’s register should be available to share with other members and the records are required to cover anyone who has a 25% or greater stake in a company.

Member States had to set up beneficial ownership registers for corporate and other legal entities by 10 January 2020. These changes made data on beneficial ownership available and affirmed transparency in the EU. Beneficial ownership registers for trusts and similar legal institutes must be set up by 10 March 2020.

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