Statutory Instrument 110 of 2019, the European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019, was signed into law on 22 March 2019. These Regulations transpose Article 30 of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and maintain the obligation, first established in 2016, for corporate entities to obtain and hold information on their beneficial ownership – that is, the people who ultimately own or control the company.
The Regulations also provide for the establishment of a central register of beneficial ownership information. This central register is operated under the aegis of the Companies Registration Office and began accepting filings on 29 July 2019.
The purpose of the Regulations is to prevent the use of corporate entities as vehicles for money laundering or terrorist financing and to provide competent authorities with access to information on the true ownership and control of corporate entities. Therefore, the obligation to file information with the central register applies to all companies formed under the Companies Act and societies registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, with the exception of companies listed on regulated markets that are subject to disclosure requirements consistent with European Union law or subject to equivalent international standards which ensure adequate transparency of ownership information. The Regulations apply to community and social enterprises if they are created under the above Acts. In cases where no beneficial owner can be identified, companies are permitted to register the senior managing officials of the company instead. The scope of the Regulations is necessary in order to meet the State's obligations on foot of the Directive.
While the relevant legislation was signed by myself as Minister for Finance, the register is maintained by a “Registrar of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial and Provident Societies”, as provided for under Regulation 18 of SI 110/2019, who has been appointed by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.