Since November 2016 under the European Communities (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2016 companies have been obliged to obtain and hold information in respect of the natural persons who are their beneficial owners/controllers.
The European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 110 of 2019) were made by the Minister for Finance and provide that the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial and Provident Societies (RBO) is the central repository of such information held by companies and industrial and provident societies.
The objectives of the beneficial ownership provisions being implemented are to strengthen transparency over who ultimately owns and controls companies and trusts to effectively detect, disrupt and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
The deadline for filing was set out in the Regulations and was November 22, 2019.
Due to technical difficulties with the RBO portal on the evening of November 22, I understand some companies and industrial and provident societies may have been unable to file Beneficial Ownership details for a period of time. Accordingly, any submissions filed with the RBO by midnight on November 25 will be deemed by the RBO as having been received on time.
The numbers filing increased significantly as the deadline of November 22 approached. The latest data from the RBO shows that as of November 27 157,577 companies had successfully registered beneficial ownership details with the RBO. This represents 69% of the total number of registered companies. There are also approximately 10,000 submissions currently at processing stage so the RBO expect the numbers registered to increase further.
While I am sympathetic to the challenges being faced by small and micro enterprises in meeting their filing obligations, companies and industrial and provident societies have been legally obligated to be in possession of much of the information required for central filing since November 2016. The RBO was very concerned to ensure that relevant entities were aware of their obligations to file with the Register and undertook an extensive Public Awareness Campaign, in the period leading up to and around the opening of the Register on 29 July and in the period leading up to and around the deadline date of 22 November.
Filing with the RBO is free and is a fully electronic process. The RBO Register is designed to accept and register submissions when all details entered are correct. Under Data Protection regulations, the RBO does not have access to the personal details entered by the presenter. Personal details are verified against Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). They are not verified with the Revenue Commissioners.
Full details on registration are provided on the RBO website along with detailed guidance, including “how to” guides and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. Enquiries can be submitted by e-mail, although 90% of enquiries received to date are already answered on the FAQ section.
With regard to companies and industrial and provident societies that have missed the deadline, I expect a practical and proportionate approach will be taken by the Registrar on a case by case basis to deal with those particular circumstances where entities who have attempted to file in time with the RBO may have missed the deadline.
Companies and societies which have not done so should file as a matter of urgency.