By Simon O’ Connor, 13th Oct 2016 (Updated 22nd March 2018)
On May the 20th 2015, The Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was introduced by the European Parliament. Although the directive has not to date been fully implemented into Irish Law it is now mandatory for companies to keep and maintain beneficial ownership register. This is one of the most discussed features of the directive aimed at the prevention of money laundering, the unlawful movement of funds and terrorism financing. A beneficial owner defined as 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:
- Registers to become publicly available.
- 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, Ireland has not yet fully implemented the regulation. The Department of Finance and the Department of Justice and Equality have already proposed the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive (AML5D) and agreed to implement it in 2019. The 5th directive clarifies the level of access the public will have to the Register.