Wednesday, October 28, 2020

176,000 Irish companies face €500,000 fine for non-compliance with anti-money laundering laws

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Fewer than 47,000 (21%) Irish business have complied with new EU anti-white collar crime and money laundering rules and could be fined up to €500,000, according to figures from the Beneficial Ownership Registrar.

It is understood that some 223,000 Irish-based companies are obliged to provide information on their beneficial owners to the central register ahead of next Friday’s (November 22) deadline, meaning 176,000 have not followed.

‘A beneficial owner, for the purposes of this legislation, is a natural person who directly or indirectly owns or controls over 25% of a relevant entity, or who controls that entity by other means,’ Nick Metcalfe, corporate governance and compliance partner at law firm Mason Hayes and Curran, said.

If an entity cannot identify any persons who own a sufficient percentage or who exercise a sufficient level of control, then it must collate and submit information of its senior managing officials instead.’

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The information required includes each beneficial owner’s name, residential address, nationality, date of birth, PPS number and the nature and extent of their ownership or control of the company.

Mr Metcalfe said that ‘each body corporate to which the regulations apply’ is required to provide the gardai, Revenue, Criminal Assets Bureau, Central Bank, Law Society and Bar Council with access to information on its internal register on request.

Irish authorities are then allowed to share that information with corresponding organisations in other EU members states.

Banks, law firms and members of the public will also be allowed access to limited information, although a €2.50 will apply to private citizens to access the register.

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Companies that fail to properly keep a register will face a fine, and there’s also provision for custodial sentencing of up to 12 months for knowingly providing false information, which would also apply to company officials who consent to false information being provided.

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