Following requirements from the 5th Directive Cyprus puts into force of the central registry of ultimate beneficial owners (UBO) that will contain information and data on all natural persons who own or control a legal entity.
It is important to mention that in Cyprus because the Registry is being implemented under the 4AMLD and not the 5AMLD It will not be available to the Public. Access will be restricted to competent authorities such as the Tax Department and the police. Ultimately, it will be accessible to any person or organization that can demonstrate a legitimate interest meaning suppression of ML activities and related offences.
Further to the CYSEC Directive information kept in the central register should be adequate, accurate, and current and should be accessed by:
- The relevant Competent Authority, the Unit, the Cyprus Customs & Excise Department, the Tax Authorities and the Police. Their access should be timely and unrestricted without a prior notification to the relevant companies or other legal entities of such access.
- The Obliged Entities within the framework of CDD. They will have timely access to the corporate central register. However, the Obliged Entities should not rely exclusively on the corporate central register in order to fulfil their CDD requirements. Those requirements shall be fulfilled by using a risk-based approach.
- Any person or entity that can demonstrate a legitimate interest (the interest of a person in relation to the combatting of ML, TF and related predicated offenses) shall access the name, the month and year of birth, the nationality and the country of residence of the beneficial owner, as well as, the nature and extent of the beneficial owner interest held.
For this purpose, Companies, trusts and other legal persons have 6 month from 18 January 2021 to 19 July 2021 to collect beneficial ownership information and report it to the Registrar of Companies. A temporary platform has been developed for that purpose.
All companies or legal entities incorporated in Cyprus will be required to maintain clear information on their beneficial owners in the UBO Register. The goal is to have a clear and true understanding, on behalf of whom transactions are taking place.
The UBO Definition:
- Any physical person who ultimately controls/owns a legal entity with direct or indirect shareholding ownership of 25% plus one share, or,
- Has an ownership interest of more than 25% in the customer on whose behalf a transaction or activity is being conducted.
The definition is still challenged from Cyprus banks that still require to receive full requirements for any individual holding more than 10% plus one share on the structure.
The information on Ultimate Beneficial Ownership is protected by strict data protection regulations and will only be accessed if judged appropriate. The data collection is expected to start as early as the 16th of March of 2021.