On September 18, 2017 the new legislation for the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and for the limitation of the use of cash was implemented by the Belgian legislator (“AML-law”).
This new legislation is a direct consequence of the (fourth) Anti-Money laundering Directive (i.e. Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and the Counsel of May 20, 2015). The Directive envisages a more efficient prevention of money laundering and fraud by introducing stricter identification and follow-up requirements towards member states and/or entities with a notification duty. Furthermore, the Directive implements a stricter “know your customer”-process (“KYC”) for potentially suspicious transactions with third countries, which have a high risk of threatening the financial system. Finally, the Directive introduces the obligation for member states to put in place a national register of ultimate beneficial owners (“UBO’s”), called the UBO-register, which contains the data of the underlying natural persons of companies and other legal entities.
In view of the changes to the anti-money laundering legislation at European level, the Belgian legislation has been updated accordingly. The new legislation is applicable to all Belgian companies (and hence all Belgian subsidiaries of international groups).
Initially, companies had to comply with this new set of rules as of, in principle, October 31, 2018. However, a transition period has been provided until September 30, 2019. Therefore, the latter will be the ultimate deadline on which companies should register their ultimate beneficial owners for the first time.
Registration is mandatory. In case of non-compliance, penalties and administrative fines might be imposed on the company’s directors.
According to article 14/1 Belgian Companies Code, the board of directors of the relevant companies have to provide the information to the UBO-register, within the month each time this information is available or subject to changes. The information should be provided to the UBO-register by means of an electronic submission.
Please note that the UBO-register became effective as from October 31, 2018 but companies will have time until September 30, 2019. Therefore, information should be provided to the UBO-register for the first time on September 30, 2019 at the latest. However, we suggest starting with the determination of your company’s UBO(‘s) as soon as possible.
The information in the UBO-register must be updated at least annually or at least a confirmation must be filed that the information is still up-to-date.
For additional Information, please contact us and a Corporate Service Specialist will contact you shortly.