European Union to open up access to beneficial ownership information

The Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Commission have reached political agreement on a fifth anti-money laundering (AML) directive known as MLD5 that amends the fourth MLD4 directive.

It was intended that MLD4 would be implemented by each EU member state by 26 June 2017 but some countries have yet to finalise its implementation.

The new directive has yet to be approved by the EU Parliament and EU Council.

Interconnected registers

The new directive introduces several additional measures in the context of beneficial ownership.

Information on the beneficial ownership of companies will be made available to the public through each national central register of beneficial ownership.

The national registers of beneficial ownership for each relevant EU member state will be interconnected.

Transparent trusts

National registers of the beneficial ownership of trusts will be available for inspection by member states’ competent authorities and law enforcement agencies as well as firms subject to specific AML regulation, notably banks and other financial institutions.

The registers will also be available for those who have a legitimate interest in accessing the details, which officials have confirmed will include journalists and civil society organisations.

Information will also be made available to the public on the beneficial ownership of a trust that owns a company not incorporated in the EU.

Greater powers

The new directive also confers greater powers on competent authorities for the purposes of verifying entries in national beneficial owner registers in order to make them more accurate and reliable.

A formal legal text has not yet been published to reflect the political agreement reached in relation to MLD5 in December but analysts understand that it is expected in the middle of 2018, with subsequent national implementation required within eighteen months.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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