The European Parliament and Council have adopted the final text of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive which is expected to be published in the Official Journal in the summer.  The Directive comes into force twenty days after publication in the Official Journal and Member States then have two years to implement its provisions.

Among other issues covered by the Directive, there will be a requirement that Member States must ensure that corporate and other legal entities incorporated in their territories obtain adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership, including details of the beneficial interests held.  The information will be required to be held in a central register in each Member State and will be available to competent authorities and financial intelligence units without restriction.  Other entities with a legitimate interest may also be able to access the information although there will be provisions providing for exemptions from access for beneficial owners if access would put them at risk of fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, violence or intimidations.

These requirements overlap with the provisions of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (the Act) in the UK which also requires companies to identify their beneficial owners.  As we have previously reported, under the Act, companies will be required to keep a register of people with significant control (PSC register) from January 2016 and will be required to file such information at Companies House from April 2016.  For more information about the PSC register please click here for our January newsletter article.

To access the relevant EU texts please click here for the Texts adopted by the European Parliament and here for the Council's position.