As mentioned in our previous newsflash of 19 July 2017, according to the fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (2015/849), adopted by the European Parliament on 20 may 2015, one of the obligations of all EU Member States was to establish a national register of ultimate beneficial owners (UBO) before 26 June 2017. Through the introduction of this register, the Member States will have an additional tool in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Law of 18 September 2017
On 6th October 2017, the law of 18 September 2017 on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and the restriction on the use of cash has been published in the Official Belgian Gazette. This law provides the creation in Belgium of a centralised register of beneficial owners (UBO-register). This law provides the obligation for companies, a(i)sbl and foundations to collect and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial owners and for the administrators to transmit this information to the UBO register. As from 16 October 2017, companies, a(i)sbl and foundations are therefore required to collect and hold information on their beneficial owners.
Royal Decree of 14 August 2018
On 14th August 2018, the Royal Decree on the operating procedures of the UBO register has been published in the Belgian Official Gazette.
According to this Royal Decree, the Belgian UBO register will be accessible to the competent authorities, obliged entities and each citizen, even without any legitimate interest. Each citizen can have access to the information on companies in the UBO register, however this information is only to be found on the basis of the registered number of the company or the name of the company. An administrative cost will also be charged to have access. Conditional access to the information in the UBO register will be granted for foundations, a(i)sbl and trusts. Every access to the register will be saved and can be traced during ten years.
An other important exception is the request of a beneficial owner to restrict the disclosure of the registered information for citizens and organisations, due to a high risk on fraud, abduction, extortion, intimidation or when the beneficial owner is a minor or not legally competent. Each request to restrict the disclosure will be carefully analyzed by the Treasury department of the FPS Finance.
The Royal decree further states amongst others:
- Which information needs to be transmitted to the UBO Register;
- Who must register this information on behalf of the legal entities concerned and how;
- Which controls can be carried out and if needed, which sanctions will be applied;
- How the data will be managed;
PwC is currently analysing the texts of the new regulation and assessing the impact thereof.
The Royal Decree of 30 July 2018 on operating procedures of the UBO register, published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 14 August 2018 and implementing the law of 18 September 2017 on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and the restriction on the use of cash, will enter into force on 31 October.
If you already have any questions with regard to this matter, please reach out to your regular PwC-adviser, or contact Kristof Wuyts (+32 3 259 32 10) or Stefan De Plus (+32 3 259 30 08).