Companies given more time to enter details in the UBO register
Press release of 13 February 2019* issued by Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, in charge of the Fight against Tax Fraud, and Minister of Development Cooperation:
Companies will now have until the end of September to add their shareholders to the UBO register, where all companies, associations, non-profit organisations, trusts and foundations are required to publish the names of their ‘ultimate beneficial owners’ (UBOs). This requirement stems from the Anti-Money Laundering Act transposing the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/849) into Belgian law. Knowing who is behind a legal entity is vital to stepping up the fight against money laundering practices and terrorist financing.
The Anti-Money Laundering Act requires companies to give the names of any individuals/shareholders directly or indirectly holding more than 25% of a company’s shares or voting rights. Where businesses are controlled by another company, the latter’s UBOs must be disclosed. If there is an ownership chain, the reporting entity will need to look at the whole ownership structure.
Too many grey areas
Only 25,000 of the 800,000 to 1,000,000 or so legal persons required to provide information for the UBO register have done so up to now. These numbers are so low because of the persistence of a whole range of grey areas for companies. Many questions remain about the precise scope of UBO registration. Furthermore, many non-profit organisations are still unsure as to what exactly they have to do. Moreover, those wishing to register have faced a lot of computer problems in the process of reporting the relevant individuals’ names online.
Minister of Finance Alexander De Croo would like FPS Finance to now eliminate these grey areas and deal with the outstanding issues. To this end, this month the SPF will publish a new FAQ about adding the relevant shareholders’ names to the UBO register. The computer problems should also be resolved.
Deadline extended to September
The Minister has decided to postpone the deadline for supplying the respective names to 30 September 2019. An additional advantage of this date is that it is also the deadline for filing corporate income tax returns. From April onwards, accountants and notaries will have their own app linked to the UBO register, which should facilitate providing identification details.
* Link in French