On 26 June 2017 the deadline has passed for the implementation of the European directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing (the Fourth anti-money laundering directive). With this directive, among other things, the register of ultimate beneficial owners (UBO-register) was introduced. We have previously informed you about the proposed content of the Dutch UBO-register and the effect of its introduction. The EU member states had two years to implement the directive in national law. It is now apparent that many member states have not met this deadline. In this newsletter we will provide a brief update on the status of the relevant legislation in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
A consultation on a draft bill on the registration of UBOs in the Netherlands was published for consultation purposes on 31 March 2017. On 23 June 2017, the Dutch government announced that a definitive bill can be expected in the second half of 2017.
A bill on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing was approved by the Belgian Council of Ministers on 22 June 2017. The bill imposes on companies and other legal entities an obligation to collect information about their UBOs and register it in a UBO-register. The bill has been submitted to the King for signing and is expected to be published this summer. However, its content has not yet been made available.
The implementation of the Fourth anti-money laundering directive will take place in two separate bills. On 26 April 2017 a bill implementing provisions, with the exception of the provisions on the UBO-register, was introduced in the Luxembourg Parliament. The bill regarding the implementation of the UBO-register is expected to be brought before Parliament soon.
What this means for you
The introduction of the UBO-register is a reality or, at any rate, simply a matter of time. Because the implementation deadline has passed and the directive therefore has direct effect, we would advise legal entities, partnerships and other entities to start identifying and gathering the necessary information about their ultimate beneficial owners, even where the implementation process has not yet been completed. As far as the Netherlands is concerned, the information that will have to be registered – based on the relevant draft bill – is summarised in this overview. Obviously, actual registration can only begin once the UBO-register is operational. It is still unknown at this point what form the Belgian and Luxembourg UBO-register legislation will take.