Nowhere to hide: the register of ultimate beneficial owners – Recent developments

As already indicated in our newsflash of April 24 of this year, the Belgian legislator drafted a preliminary proposal for the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (nr. 2015/849) and its obligations.

In the meantime, the implementation of the aforementioned proposal has been completed. On September 18, 2017, the new legislation for the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and for the limitation of the use of cash was legally implemented by the Belgian legislator (“AML-law”).

This entails that the centralized register on ultimate beneficial owners (“UBO’S”) has also been introduced into Belgian law. According to article 74 §1 of the AML-law, the aim of the UBO-register is to provide sufficient, accurate and up-to-date information about the UBO’s of companies, trusts, foundations, non-profit organizations and other comparable legal entities incorporated in Belgium. To this end, the AML-law provides a definition of the ultimate beneficial owner: “the natural person(s) who are the ultimate owner of or have control over the client, the proxyholder of the client or the beneficiary of life insurance agreements, and/or natural person(s) for whose account transactions are done or a business relation is entered into”. The information on the UBO’s should at least contain the name, the date of birth, the nationality and the address of the UBO, as well as the nature and size of the economic interest held by the UBO.

It is up to the board of directors of the relevant companies to provide the abovementioned information to the UBO-register, which is kept at a specific division within the General Administration of the Treasury of the Federal Public Service of Finance. The board of directors have the obligation to provide or update this information each time it is available or subject to changes. Should they not fulfill this obligation, or should the quality of the information provided by them be very poor, the directors risk penalties and administrative fines.

However, the operational functioning of the UBO-register is still to be established by the King. The Royal Decree in this regard will determine the operational functioning of the UBO-register, but has not yet been finalized. It is expected that the UBO-register will be fully operative as from June 2018.

We will of course closely monitor any new developments on the actual functioning of the UBO-register and we will keep you updated.

Should you require more information, feel free to contact us!