We recently examined The European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2016, which came into effect on 15 November 2016. These Regulations require Irish corporate and legal entities to hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial owners in their own beneficial ownership register. Click here to view the article.

The next stage in this anti-money laundering process involves the creation of a national centralised Beneficial Ownership Register (BOR). It is expected that the Companies Registration Office (CRO) will be the entity charged with responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of the BOR. The CRO has recently published the following information in order to give companies advance notice of how the BOR is likely to operate and what is expected to be required of companies in relation to filing data:

1. Filing will be done through an on-line portal, there will be no paper forms and there will be no filing fees.

2. The information to be filed with the BOR in respect of each beneficial owner (must be a natural person) will include the following:

  • Forename and Surname
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Residential Address and Eircode
  • A statement of the nature of the interest held by each beneficial owner
  • A statement of the extent of the interest by each beneficial owner
  • The date on which each natural person was entered in the register as a beneficial ownership of the corporate entity
  • If no natural persons are identified there shall be entered in the BOR the names of the natural persons who hold the positions of senior managing officials of the company.

3. Details of the person making the entry in the BOR on behalf of the company will also be required.

The CRO had indicated that the BOR would likely be in place and ready to be populated from the end of June 2017 and that companies would be given a 3 month period to file without being in breach of the statutory duty to file beneficial ownership details (i.e. September 2017). However, the Department of Finance has recently confirmed that these dates are no longer achievable and that the BOR is now expected to be launched in Quarter 4 2017, with companies being given an extended time-frame to make their filings after the expected Q4 launch of the BOR.

It is still unknown who will be able to access the information held on the central BOR. Currently under the relevant EU Directive, the data will be available to:

  • National competent authorities and financial intelligence units;
  • Entities required to carry out customer due diligence; and
  • Any persons that can demonstrate a legitimate interest.

It is possible, based on suggested changes to the underlying EU legislation, that access to the BOR could be broadened to give the public generally a right to this information. The continued consideration and debates around the issue of public access to the BOR and the privacy implications of such access is one of the reasons for the delay in the implementation of the register. We will keep you updated on this.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already taken steps to establish and maintain information on the beneficial owners of your company, you should do so now in preparation of a likely 2017 year end filing deadline.