Registry of Real Beneficial OwnersLora Stylianou
In accordance with the 4th European Directive (ΕΕ 2015/849) of the European Parliament on the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism, the Council of Ministers of Cyprus has decided on December 16th, 2020 to:
- appoint the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry as the competent authority for maintaining the central register of real company beneficiaries and other legal entities; and
- authorize the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver to collect information about the real beneficiaries of companies and other legal entities.
Companies, trusts and other legal persons have six months from 18 January 2021 to 19 July 2021 to collect beneficial ownership information and report it to the Registrar of Companies. A temporary platform has been developed for this purpose and access to it is possible only by the competent authorities such as the Tax department and the police.
Beneficial owners of companies are defined as natural persons with a 25 per cent direct or indirect ownership of shares or voting rights, except for publicly listed companies. For trusts, the beneficial owners are the settlor, trustees, protector, beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries, or any other natural person exercising ultimate control over the trust.
The information collected will be transferred to the final system which will be developed in the second half of 2021 and access to it will be based on the provisions of the 5th European Directive (EU 2018/843) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018, concerning the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing (AMLD5).
Cyprus has not yet transposed AMLD5 into national law. However, this is expected to happen during 2021.
Ultimately, the final platform will be accessible to any person or organisation that can demonstrate a legitimate interest, as set out in AMLD5. However, under Cyprus’ anti-money laundering laws Cyprus’ implementation is expected to restrict ‘legitimate interest’ to mean suppression of money laundering activities and related offences.