Transposing the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the Act Establishing a Register of Beneficial Ownership (WiEReG) enters into force on 15 January 2018. By 1 June 2018 at the latest, stock corporations, limited liability companies, limited commercial partnerships, general partnerships, savings banks, private foundations, associations and, possibly, trusts need to report their beneficial owners to this register. The reporting duty does not apply to legal entities which have already supplied data on their beneficial owners to the Company Register or Register of Associations (such as general partnerships, limited commercial partnerships and limited liability companies whose shareholders or partners are solely natural persons).
Beneficial owners are natural persons who ultimately own or control the legal entity; this is the case when the owner holds a stake of more than 25 percent or has the direct or indirect control (a stake of over 50 percent) of a legal entity that holds a stake of more than 25 percent. The reporting duty includes name, residence, nationality, type and scope of the beneficial interest and the share of the stake or voting rights.
The report is filed electronically through the business service portal USP. The Register can be accessed by the legal entity itself with regard to data reported by it, and by all entities invested with obligations to check under the Financial Market Money Laundering Act, such as banks, professional representatives (lawyers, notaries public, auditors, tax consultants, etc.), as well as real estate agents and insurance agents. If a legitimate interest can be shown in connection with preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, other natural persons and organisations are allowed to access the Register as well.
Delayed reports are punishable (on pain of penalties) by repeated coercive fines of up to EUR 5,000; a wilful violation of the reporting obligation is punished by a fine of up to EUR 200,000, and a grossly negligent violation calls for a fine of up to EUR 100,000.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.