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 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. While the CRO homepage provides a link to the RBO, the RBO is a separate website and a statutorily separate Register from the Companies Registration Office. Obligations under S.I. No. 110 of 2019 on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing are legally separate to company law requirements under the Companies Act 2014.
The numbers filing increased steadily throughout last week as the deadline of November 22 approached. As of November 22 2019 126,060 companies had successfully registered beneficial ownership details. This represents 55% of the total. There are many thousands of submissions currently at processing stage and the RBO expect the numbers registered to increase further. Further breakdown by size of company is not available at this time. The focus of the RBO staff is on processing the many thousands of submissions already received.
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.
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. Any submissions filed with the RBO by midnight on November 25 will be treated by the RBO as having been received on time.
With regard to companies and industrial and provident societies that have missed the deadline for filing, 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 companies and industrial and provident societies who have attempted to file in time with the RBO may have missed the deadline.