Details unclear in Qatar’s upcoming beneficial ownership legislation

Qatar has introduced a law requiring the ministry of commerce and industry to create a register of beneficial ownership for newly created entities and establish a unified economic registry with the aim of encouraging transparency in economic and financial transactions.

The law will be implemented when more detailed regulations are published and it is unclear whether existing entities will be required to disclose beneficial owners or provide information for the unified economic registry.

Legislation unclear

The law will require all newly established economic establishments, legal arrangements, non-profit organisations and freelance professionals to register in the unified economic registry and each will be issued a unique number.

But while the legislation is clear that it applies to legal entities licenced or registered for the first time, it is not clear at this time what the process will be for existing legal entities to register and be issued numbers.

Information requirements

The law requires new legal entities to hold a sufficient, up-to-date and accurate information on real beneficiaries, and submit a copy of this information to the ministry of commerce and industry. Until this legislation, company information in Qatar has been strictly confidential.

Potential penalties for breaching the new laws range from a written warning from the ministry or a suspension of office for managers or directors to a jail term of up to two years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 Qatari riyal (US$137,000).

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