Amendments to the Register of Beneficial Owners Regulations
By means of LN 158 of 2019, the Government of Malta has on the 12th July 2019, published amendments to the Companies Act (Register of Beneficial Owners) Regulations. The amendments seek to transpose into Maltese Law, certain provisions of the Fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD).
The amendments now place a burden on beneficial owners to provide information to Maltese companies in which they hold a beneficial interest. Natural persons, who have reasonable cause to believe that they are beneficial owners of a company, are required to provide the information to the company without the need for the company to request this information from them. In view of this, penalties applicable to beneficial owners have also been extended to cases where they fail to voluntarily provide the information to the company. Prior to the amendments, penalties were only applicable where beneficial owners did not provide the information when requested by the company.
The 5AMLD now obliges EU member states to make the information on the beneficial ownership of companies freely accessible to the general public. The Regulations now provide that members of the general public are to have access to beneficial ownership of information of companies but only to the name, the month and year of birth, the nationality and the country of residence of the beneficial owner as well as the nature and extent of the beneficial interest held. This specific amendment will come into force on the 1st January2020, while the other amendments came into force on the 12th July 2019. Access to beneficial ownership information may not be granted where it can be shown, that such access would expose the beneficial owner to disproportionate risk, including risk of fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, harassment, violence or intimidation or where the beneficial owner is a minor or otherwise legally incapable. Access to beneficial ownership information cannot be restricted to credit and financial institutions or to subject persons, as defined in the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations.
The amendments also grant the Malta Business Registry (MBR) a new power which will entitle them (including through on-site inspections) to establish the current beneficial ownership of a company if they have reasonable cause to believe that the beneficial ownership information submitted to them is not accurate or up to date. In terms of the amendments, national competent authorities with designated responsibilities to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and subject persons are required to report to the MBR any discrepancies they find between the beneficial ownership information available to them and the beneficial ownership held in the register of beneficial owners held by the said MBR. Until such discrepancies are resolved, the MBR may make reference to such discrepancies in the register of beneficial owners. Should the Registrar determine the need to update the information on the beneficial owners of the company following any such enquiry or report, each officer of the company shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Eur10,000.
The amendments also provide that once a company has been struck off the register, the information on the beneficial ownership of that company will remain available on the register and on the interconnected system of Registries for a period of five years from the date of striking off of that company.
How can we help?
For further information, please contact Stephen Balzan, who is the firm’s tax and corporate services partner on [email protected]. ACT can help you understand the changes to the registrar of beneficial owners regulations and how these can impact your business.
Apart from its offices in St. Julian’s Malta, ACT operates from a second office in Gozo, which is situated in the capital city of Victoria. For an appointment in our Gozo office, please call on 00356 21378672 or send us an email on [email protected].
Maltese companies are subject to tax at the rate of 35% on their world wide income and capital gains. Malta grants various fiscal incentives to both companies and their shareholders upon distribution of a dividend. Malta is a membe...Learn More
Setting up a Company
Setting up a company in Malta is a relatively straight forward procedure and can be set up within 2 working days, provided we are in receipt of all the information, funds and due diligence documentation we need. The Act that regulates Malte...Learn More
Taking up Residence
Warm climate, friendly people, excellent communication infrastructures, low criminality and many other features of the Maltese islands have made Malta an excellent destination for people to take up residence in. Moreover low rates of taxati...Learn More
Malta was the first EU Member State to specifically regulate the remote gaming industry in 2004 and has ever since established itself as one of the prime jurisdictions for remote gaming operators. The Malta Gaming Authority (“MGA”) is the regulatory of gaming in Malta. The success o...Learn More
Malta has become a destination of choice for the setting up of Payment Institutions (also referred to as Payment Services Providers or PSPs). A number of advantages has contributed to this success, mainly but not limited to the fiscal incentives granted not only to the payment institutions ...Learn More
Electronic Money Institutions
Malta has recently seen an increase in the number of Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) looking to set up their operations in Malta. This has been largely due to the growth in the e-commerce and the i-gaming industries. Such EMIs are regulated by the Financial Institutions Act and t...Learn More
Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Services
Malta has always been on the forefront of technology and innovation. In the past months, a number of initiatives have been launched, aimed at establishing an innovative and attractive regulatory framework for entities operating in blockchain (and distributed ledger technologies), virtual cu...Learn More
Prospects – Services of a Corporate Advisor
‘Prospects’ is a new platform set up by the Malta Stock Exchange in line with its commitment to open up new capital market opportunities, create economies of scale and to afford businesses more competitiveness and sustainability. Through ‘Prospects’, SME’s wil...Learn More
Assistance to Family Businesses
Malta has recently introduced legislation to encourage good governance in the management of family businesses, to assist family businesses to operate their business in an efficient way and to assist such family businesses to transfer their business from one generation to the other. Malta is...Learn More