New Disclosure Requirements for Share Ownership

Beneficial ownership explaination

By Simon O’ Connor, 13th Oct 2016

On May the 20th 2015, The Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was introduced by the European Parliament. The main objective of the Directive was to prevent money laundering. One of the most discussed features of the Directive is the introduction of beneficial ownership registers. A beneficial owner is an individual who controls or owns legal entity through ownership of more than 25% of shares and/or 25% voting rights.

At the moment, companies in Ireland are only required to record and publicise legal ownership. Under the directive, corporate and legal entities in every state in the European Union are required to record and hold precise and current information on the beneficial ownership of shares. Companies are required to submit this information to their national companies office. This information will then be made accessible to permitting authorities.

Proposals to amend the directive have recently been announced by the European Commission. These amendments include:

  1. Registers to become publicly available.
  2. Individuals who have at least 10% ownership in particular companies, which present a risk of tax evasion and/or money laundering, will be included in the register.

Implementation of Directive in Ireland

The deadline for the Directive to be implemented in European Union states is the 26th of June 2017. However, many EU member states have planned to introduce the Directive before the end of the year.  In Ireland, it is not yet known what level of access the public will have to the Register. In March, The Department of Finance and the Department of Justice and Equality met to discuss the publicity of the Register, with the outcome yet to be announced.

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