The Cyprus AML Law 188(I)/2007 has recently been amended to introduce into local law, the provisions of the 5th AML Directive 2018/843.
The Law provides for the establishment of two central registers of Beneficial Owners:
- Beneficial Owners of companies and other legal entities (the 'Companies Central Beneficial Owner Register');
- Beneficial Owners of express trusts and other legal arrangements (the 'Trusts Central Beneficial Owners Register').
The two Registers commenced on 16th March 2021.
The Companies Central Beneficial Owners Register will be maintained by the Registrar of Companies, and the Trusts Central Beneficial Owners Register will be maintained by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC).
Each company and its officers must obtain and keep, at the registered office, adequate and current information about the Beneficial Owners. These are defined as individuals (natural persons), who directly or indirectly have an interest of 25% plus one share, of the issued share capital of the company. If no such individuals are identified, the senior management official must be similarly identified.
It is the responsibility of the officers of the company to electronically submit the requested information to the Companies Central Beneficial Owner Register, no later than 6 months after the date of launch of the Companies Central Beneficial Owner Register. As detailed above, the Registers commenced on 16th March 2021.
The Beneficial Owner Register will be accessible by:
- Competent Supervisory Authorities (such as ICPAC and Cyprus Bar Association), the FIU, the Customs Department, the Tax Department and the Police;
- 'Obliged' entities e.g. banks and service providers, in the context of conducting due diligence and identification measures for relevant clients. They should have access to; the name, month and year of birth, nationality and country of residence, of the Beneficial Owner and the nature and extent of their interest;
- The general public shall have access to the name, month and year of birth, nationality and country of residence of the Beneficial Owner and the nature and extent of their beneficial interest.
Are There Any Restrictions on the Information Being Made Available?
A Beneficial Owner may file a written request (accompanied by supporting evidence) to the Registrar of Companies, seeking a restriction to the access of his information by obliged entities or the general public, on the basis that such access would expose him to disproportionate risk of; fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, harassment, violence or intimidation or where the Beneficial Owner is a minor or otherwise legally incapable.
During the transition period, that is for at least the first 6 months after the launch of the Beneficial Owner Register, no access will be granted to obliged entities or to the general public.
Penalties for Non-compliance
Non-compliance with the obligations can lead to criminal liability and administrative fines of up to €20,000.
No penalties will be imposed during the transition period.
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.