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. On 31 March 2017, the Belgian Government approved a preliminary draft act, which is currently submitted to a vote in the Parliament.
The draft act defines the UBO as any private individual who directly or indirectly controls or owns a company or another legal entity incorporated in Belgium. This condition is met when a private individual has 25% of the shares, voting rights or ownership interest (the Member States may impose a lower percentage). If no UBO can be appointed, the senior management personnel of that entity will be considered to be the ultimate beneficial owners. For foundations, trusts, non-profit associations and similar entities there will be particular rules with respect to persons of whom the specifics should be kept in the register.
The Belgian UBO-register should contain certain information (at least the name, date of birth, nationality, country of residence of the beneficial owners, as well as the nature and extent of the beneficial interest held) with respect to the UBO’s of companies and other legal entities.
The Belgian UBO-register will be accessible for the competent authorities, obliged entities and persons or organisations with a legitimate interest. The tax authorities will only be able to access the register for specific purposes (e.g. in case of money laundering). Who exactly will be granted access to the Belgian UBO-register and how this access will be regulated, will be further defined in a Royal Decree.
If you 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).