Our analysis shows that just 13,000 of the 200,000 corporate entities have made the required disclosure.
It is designed to lift the veil of secrecy on corporate ownership by forcing companies to reveal their beneficial owners. However, with the deadline for registration just weeks away, new analysis shows that just 5 per cent of Irish companies have made a declaration to the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership.
The launch of the register’s online portal was delayed from June 22 this year and only went live on July 29, the height of the holiday season. Declarations are due to be completed by November 22.
That delay and the possibility that there are a significant number of foreign beneficial owners who do not have a Personal Public Service numbers (PPSNs), a key requirement of the online filing, are all contributing factors to the low compliance rates.
Companies may not be able to fully comply, particularly if the beneficial owner is an individual with no PPSN and will therefore be committing a criminal offence,” according to Salvador Nash, head of company secretarial services.
The register is being implemented under EU anti-money laundering legislation, and is designed to increase transparency around the ownership structures of corporate entities.
The requirement affects virtually all Irish companies, including companies limited by guarantee and other bodies corporate, such as ICAVs and industrial and provident societies, according to Nash.
“With less than two months to go to comply, approximately 13,000 companies, out of a population of circa 200,000, have declared beneficial ownership with the register,” Nash said.
“All registrations must be done online, but as we speak now you can’t upload forms to the portal, it’s not a technical problem, the website appears capable of doing what you ask it to do, the problem appears to be an administrative one.”
In practice when, say a bank, is carrying out customer due diligence and the beneficial ownership information provided to them does not correspond with the public filing, that bank will have to report the discrepancy to the register.
It may also delay the opening of a bank account or the provision of a loan facility.
“Although Ireland signed up to and transposed the European Directives dealing with anti-money laundering and disclosure of beneficial ownership, a low compliance rate with what is a relatively straightforward obligation, will not reflect well internationally,” Nash said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said filing with the register is free and is a fully electronic process.
“Only in a small number of cases (where the beneficial owner does not have a PPSN) will there be a requirement to upload documents,” she said.
“The development of the upload facility is at an advanced stage and it is expected that the facility will be available shortly.”
This article first appeared in the Sunday Business Post and has been reproduced here with their kind permission.
KPMG's multi-disciplinary professionals are fully embedded in KPMG's tax and advisory teams ensuring that we have a deep understanding of clients' issues and business and market trends.
Our Legal Services team can assist you with ensuring compliance with all aspects of the new regulations.
If you have any questions in relation to these measures, please feel free to contact your KPMG team or a member of the KPMG Legal Services team.