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Cyprus beneficial ownership register for companies opens this week

Beneficial ownership register opens this week.

On March 16, details of thousands of companies domiciled on the island will be collected to be entered in a so-called Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) register – according to standards set by the EU directive. Every EU Member State in Europe is doing the same.

Companies are allowed six months to collect all the details to enter into the system. After that period, changes or updates to the company details must be entered promptly.

The initial register will be an interim database, which government agencies could access on request. The  final system, with differing levels of access, is expected to be available “by the end of this year.” Access to the final system of the UBO Register will be available to the Tax Department and other Supervisory Authorities free of charge, and to the public at large at a fee of €3.50.

The 4th AML Directive required Member States to allow access to beneficial ownership information on corporate and other legal entities in a sufficiently coherent and coordinated way, through the central registers in which beneficial ownership information is set out, by establishing a clear rule of public access, so that third parties are able to ascertain, throughout the Union, who are the beneficial owners of corporate and other legal entities.

A ‘beneficial owner’ means any natural person or persons who ultimately own or control the customer and/or the natural person(s) on whose behalf a transaction or activity is being conducted.

During the second half of 2021, it is envisaged that the beneficial owners register will be in full operational form and will become accessible in accordance with the requirements of the 5th AML Directive.

Cyprus on January 4  activated the beneficial owners register, thus completing the transposition of the 4th AML Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing) into national law.

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