European Parliament Passes Directive for Central Registers of Companies

The European Parliament has passed the fourth anti-money laundering directive (AMLD4), a law that will oblige European Union (EU) member states to keep central registers of company ownership accessible both to authorities and the public.


European Parliament - Image from Wikimedia by Anca PandreaThe registers of information will include the ultimate beneficial owners of corporate and other legal entities, as well as trusts, according to a Parliamentary press release.

Original proposals for the directive did not include such a register, but ministers of the European Parliament (MEPs) insisted on its inclusion during negotiations.

To obtain access to a register, a person will have to demonstrate a legitimate interest in suspected money laundering or terrorist financing. For example, they could be an investigative journalist or work for a non-governmental organization.

Another way to get access to the register will be to present evidence that an initial crime has taken place that may have produced funds likely to have then been laundered. This is known as a predicate offense.

Information on trusts, however, will only be accessible to authorities and “obliged entities”, such as banks performing customer due diligence.

The directive also clarifies rules on “politically-exposed” figures, including legislators, judges and heads of state and their family members, who are seen as greater corruption risks.

EU member states will now have two years to transpose the AMLD4 into national laws.