CHANGES TO THE BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REGULATIONS
In order to be compliant with the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive, Malta introduced some changes to the Beneficial Ownership Registry of Companies, the most striking of which is the accessibility of information on the beneficial owners of Maltese companies to the general public.
The main changes can be summarized as follows:
Access to the registry shall be granted to any member of the general public albeit limited to name, the month and year of birth, the nationality, the country of residence and the extent and nature of the beneficial interest of the beneficial owners of a company. The public will not be required to prove any legitimate interest in order to have access to the information on the beneficial owners. For the time being, it seems that such searches shall be subject to a €5.00 fee.
The law now requires any natural person who has reasonable cause to believe to be a beneficial owner of a company to provide the information required by law to the authorities without delay. The latter also have the right to request information from any natural person whom they have reasonable cause to believe to be a beneficial owner.
The authorities are also vested with powers to take measure in order to ascertain the accuracy of the information provided, including investigation at the premises of the registered address of the company, as well as increasing penalties up to €10,000.
The information held about the beneficial owners of a company shall remain in the system for a period of 5 years after the company has been struck off from the register.
Such new amendments will enter into force on the 1st of January 2020.
However, it is important to note that such changes will not apply to the beneficial owner register of Maltese express trusts for the time being. In fact, until any changes to the legislation, access to the register of Beneficial Owners of Maltese express trust shall be limited to national authorities (including the FIAU, Police and Tax Authorities) and subject persons for the purposes of carrying out due diligence. For the purposes of the legislation, a beneficial owner shall be deemed to be the settlor, trustees, protector and beneficiaries or any other person having ultimate and effective control over the trust.
However, until any amendments to the legislation, qualifying beneficial owners of trusts that hold shares in Maltese companies will still be reportable in the respective company’s register of Beneficial Owners and will also be available to the public as from 1st January 2020.
This publication has been prepared as a general guide and for information purposes only. It is not a substitution for professional advice. One must not rely on it without receiving independent advice based on the particular facts of his/her own case. No responsibility can be accepted by the authors or the publishers for any loss occasioned by acting or refraining from acting on the basis of this publication.
Dr. Francesco Sultana
Kinanis Fiduciaries Limited Francesco.Sultana@kinanis.com
We are a Law Firm with offices in Cyprus and Malta and a representative office in Shanghai China comprising of more than 80 lawyers, accountants and other professionals who advise, international and local clients.
Member of the Kinanis Law Firm group is Kinanis Fiduciaries Limited a Maltese licensed fiduciary company (by the Malta Financial Services Authority) and corporate service provider specializing in corporate and tax advice excelling in providing the international investor with a one-stop-shop solution in doing business through Malta.
The Firm has been offering legal and consulting services since 1983 evolving from a traditional law firm to an innovative cutting-edge multidisciplinary law firm combining exceptional expertise in law, tax, vat and accounting.
From its establishment the Firm’s focus has been heavily business oriented and always abreast with the latest global developments and innovations. Drawing from our pool of experienced professionals we provide our clients’ businesses full legal and accounting support on an everyday basis as well as customized solutions in today’s global financial and legal challenges.
We consider ourselves as ‘traditional pioneers’ and our motto is to foresee and anticipate any issues that may potentially impact our clients’ business and to offer effective advice and solutions proactively.
Civil Partnership, Law Firm
Kinanis Fiduciaries Limited
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Lawyers’ Limited Company
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388 Nanjing West Road, Huangpu District,
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is the service mark through which Kinanis LLC of Cyprus, Kinanis Fiduciaries Limited of Malta, Kinanis, Civil Partnership, of Malta, Kinanis (China) Limited of Cyprus and their affiliated companies are conducting their business each of which is a separate legal entity.