Information on ultimate beneficiaries of companies will be open to all

26.05.2015 Information on ultimate beneficiaries of companies will be open to all

The European Parliament and the Council adopted the fourth anti-money laundering directive (Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing) on 20 May 2015.

New regulation (the implementation period is two years) obliges all EU member states to establish public registers for accumulating information on the ultimate beneficiaries (owners) of legal entities, including trusts. In the case of legal entities, a natural person who exercises control over 25 % plus one share in a legal entity is regarded as an ultimate beneficiary.

The following information accumulated in the register: the beneficial owner's name, surname, date of birth, nationality, country of residence and details of ownership in the legal entity, would be accessible to:

  • authorities and their financial intelligence units (without any restriction);
  • obliged entities (such as banks doing their customer due diligence);
  • the public (subject to certain restrictions requesting the person to register online and pay a fee).

To access the information contained in the register, any person will have to demonstrate a legitimate interest in suspected money laundering, terrorist financing and in predicate offences that may help to finance them, such as corruption, tax crimes and fraud.

Any exemption to the access to such information will be possible only on a case-by-case basis, in exceptional circumstances.

Comments by Agnius Pilipavičius, attorney-at-law TGS Baltic:

Systematised and full information on the ultimate beneficiaries (owners) of each legal entity will be obtainable from the register, whereas until now, only information on members of a particular legal entity could be obtained by one application from the Information System of Members of Legal Entities (JADIS). However, such information was not systematised up to the ultimate beneficiary (natural person), i.e. to know the ultimate beneficiaries, one had to request for information on shareholders of each shareholder (legal entity) individually, and in cases where shareholders are foreigners, it has not been possible to obtain such information. Certainly, this will depend on the regulation provided for in implementing legal acts, but it is likely that with the establishment of the register, information on ultimate beneficiaries will be easily accessible not only to law enforcement institutions or the State Tax Inspectorate but also to other interested persons.

For more information please see this link: European Parliament backs stronger rules to combat money laundering and terrorism financing