STEP -MEPs vote to include all trusts in beneficial ownership registers

Enjoy this article courtesy of STEP:


“Two European Parliament committees have voted to amend the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD), which will require trusts and trust-like entities to publicly identify their beneficial owners.




The original form of the directive was adopted by all EU institutions in May 2015. It required member states to create national registers of beneficial ownership of companies and some express trusts.


Public access to this information was to be restricted. Company ownership data would be fully available to the relevant public authorities, and to those who could demonstrate a ‘legitimate interest’. Information on trusts was to be accessible only to the authorities and obliged entities.


Modifying 4AMLD requirements for trusts


Last year, following terrorist attacks in Paris, the EU agreed to modify 4AMLD further to require details of beneficiaries of all trusts, not just taxable trusts, to be filed at central registries. Trusts designated as ‘private’ were to have some protection, in that information about beneficiaries was to be subject to the ‘legitimate interest’ criterion.


Now, however, the parliamentary Economics Committee and the Civil Liberties Committees have overwhelmingly approved amendments to remove this protection. This would mean granting all EU citizens full access to beneficial ownership information of companies and trusts of any kind, without having to give a reason. Beneficiaries will be able to keep their identities secret only if they can prove their personal safety would be at risk if revealed.


The proposal must now be put to the next plenary session of the European Parliament, which will take place later this month. If approved – which is likely, given the 89 votes to 1 outcome in committee – the European Parliament can begin tripartite talks with the European Commission and the European Council on a final draft of the directive.”