On the 26th December by virtue of Legal Notice 374 of 2017 as of the 1st January 2018 the Registrar of the Registry of Companies shall compile a register of the beneficial owners of each company that is registered. The register shall be known as the Register of Beneficial Owners.
Beneficial owners means those natural person/s who ultimately own or control the company; or the natural person/s on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted, and in the case of the body corporate or a body of persons who ultimately own or control, directly or indirectly, where applicable, more than 25% of the shares or voting rights.
The directors of all registered companies are obliged within the next 6 months to provide the Registrar a declaration, in the prescribed format, stating the name, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, an official identification document and the nature and extent of the beneficial interest held. In the case there is a change in the beneficial owner, the directors have 14 days to inform the Registrar of the change and give the required details of the new beneficial owner. All companies that are being set up as from the 1st January 2018 are to submit the said declaration when registering the company.
The register of beneficial owners held by the Registrar may only be accessible to the following:
- National competent authorities with designated responsibilities for combating money laundering and terrorist financing;
- National competent authorities that have the function of investing or prosecuting money laundering, associated criminal offences and terrorist financing, or of tracing, seizing, freezing and confiscating criminal assets;
- The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit;
- National tax authorities; and
- Any other national competent authorities in terms of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding Terrorism Regulations.
In the case the company does not comply with these new regulations a penalty of 1000 euro together with a daily penalty of 10 euro shall be shall be imposed.