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Hidden owners of companies to be revealed

March 20, 2019 at 9:52am
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The Department of the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver will have under its jurisdiction the upcoming register of Ultimate Beneficial Owners, as provided by the European Union’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

And the goal is for this provision to come into effect as from next January, with the Department taking all necessary steps to upgrade its computer system.

In other words, Cypriot authorities will have access to who really is behind registered companies and accounts as from next year.

According to an announcement by the Department, the Commissioner will proceed with the implementation and maintenance of a UBO register of corporate and other legal entities. And that within this framework, an amendment of the Companies Law is planned to include a relevant provision for the relevant register of corporate and other legal entities. As well as for the drafting of relevant regulations in cooperation with other interested parties.

At the same time, express trusts are obliged to obtain and maintain adequate, accurate and up-to-date information over the ultimate beneficial owners of a trust. Maintenance of such a registry will be undertaken by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, and its  set timetable is March 2020.

Article 30 of the Fourth European Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of use of the financial system for money laundering or financing of terrorism requires Member States of the European Union to incorporate provisions into national legislation regarding information on ultimate beneficial owners of corporate and other legal entities.

Amendments to the EU Directive 2015/849 should be part of national legislation by January 10, 2020. Member States should set up registers of ultimate beneficiaries for corporate and other legal entities by January 10, 2020. And central registers should be interconnected through the Business Registers Interconnection System by March 10, 2021.

Under the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, ultimate beneficial owner refers to the natural person(s) who ultimately owns or controls a customer and/or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted. It also includes those persons who exercise ultimate effective control over a legal person or arrangement.

Head of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus Marios Skandalis told Phileleftheros that as the supervisory authority “we ought to observe the provisions of the legislation”.

He also sent the  message that Cyprus operates in full transparency, but sounded the alarm saying that a UBO register should not pave the way for ‘cannibalism’.

 

Read more:

Moody’s credits Cyprus positive on new anti-laundering practices