Beneficial Ownership Regulations - An Update

The European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2016 (the ‘2016 Regulations’) have been revoked and restated by the European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019 (the ‘New Regulations’).

The New Regulations comprise two principal parts - Part 2 which revokes and restates the 2016 Regulations with certain amendments, and, Part 3 which provides for the creation of the Central Register with which a relevant entity must file its beneficial ownership information. The definitions of ‘Beneficial Owner’ and ‘Relevant Entity’, as well as many other aspects of the 2016 Regulations, remain unchanged under the New Regulations.

PART 2: revokes and restates the 2016 Regulations and takes effect from 22 March 2019.

PPS Numbers – in addition to the requirement to obtain and hold information on beneficial owners, steps must be taken to obtain and hold PPS numbers for its beneficial owners.

Concept of a ‘Designated Persons’ – when in a transaction with a ‘designated person’, being a bank or financial institution, auditor, accountant, tax advisor, independent legal professional, a trust or company service provider, a property service provider or certain other persons acting in Ireland in the course of business carried on by them in Ireland, there is a requirement on relevant entities to provide the designated person with information regarding beneficial ownership, and, when requested, provide identifying information and update the designated person (within 14 days) where there is a change.  

PART 3: takes effect on 22 June 2019

New relevant entities have five months from incorporation and existing relevant entities have until 22 November 2019 to submit their beneficial ownership information to the Central Register

The Central Register – Part 3 of the New Regulations provides for the establishment of the Central Register, which will be the central source of information on the beneficial ownership of entities.

Information to be submitted to the Central Register – the information to be provided to the Central Register by way of online portal, includes the beneficial owner’s, name, date of birth, nationality and residential address;  a statement of the nature and extent of the interest held or control exercised; and the PPS number (where issued, and which will be stored as a ‘hashed version’).

Each relevant entity must keep its own internal beneficial owner register up-to-date and must notify the Registrar of any relevant changes within 14 days.

In the event that a ‘designated person’ identifies a discrepancy between a relevant entity’s internal register and the information held on the Central Register the designated person must notify the Registrar accordingly (Regulation 20(3)).

Access to the Central Register

Unrestricted Access –Regulation 24 allows for unrestricted access, free of charge, to authorised personnel of An Garda Siochána, the Revenue Commissioners, FIU Ireland, the Criminal Assets Bureau or an inspector of the ODCE or a competent authority in a regulated sector.

Restricted Access– Regulation 25 allows designated persons and members of the public restricted access to the information held on beneficial owners (save for minors) (limited to the name, month and year of birth, country of residence, nationality, and statement of the nature and extent of the interest held/control exercised),subject to payment of an administrative fee.

Sanctions for Failure to Comply - A Relevant Entity’s failure to comply with its obligations to establish and maintain its own internal register and/or to submit information to the Central Register can result on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000, or on conviction or indictment to a fine not exceeding €500,000. The New Regulations also contain certain new criminal offences e.g providing materially false information to the Registrar, and failure by a ‘designated person’ to notify the Registrar of a discrepancy between the information held on an internal register and the Central Register.

Relevant entities should ensure all reasonable steps are taken to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership. Preparation is key in anticipation of the compliance deadline, and relevant entities should ensure that their internal register is in place and all required information is collected in order to be in a position to make timely filings with the Central Registrar.

To view our previous briefings on the 2016 Regulations and 4MLD please click here.

For further information in relation to this matter, please contact Bríd McCoy (Partner), Andrea de Courcey (Solicitor), or your usual AMOSS contact.