The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts 2010 to 2021 contains the latest list of new responsibilities on ‘designated persons’ (accountants among others) to corroborate the beneficial ownership details of client entities being taken on. Incidentally, the Law Reform Commission has published the consolidated version of this legislation and its available at this link.
Prior to the establishment of a business relationship with a customer, a designated person is required to ascertain that information concerning the beneficial ownership of a customer is entered in the relevant beneficial ownership register.
This register is available at different websites depending on the type of entity in question:
- the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial Provident Societies at the RBO register maintained by the Companies Registration Office; and the
- the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles, Credit Unions and Unit Trusts at the Central Bank.
A designated person must not engage in a business relationship until the beneficial ownership information is obtained, unless the designated person is a financial institution. A financial institution may open an account ahead of obtaining the information but cannot allow any transactions to occur.
Where the beneficial owner is recorded as being a senior managing official, a designated person will be required to verify the identity of that person, keep records of the steps taken and record any difficulties encountered in the verification process. See more on this responsibility below.
There are two types of anomaly that a designated person must report to the relevant registration authority, being:
- A discrepancy – there is an error on the Beneficial ownership Register; or
- Non-compliance – the Beneficial Ownership details on the register are blank (we believe this to be the case for approximately 20% of obliged entities).
We will explain these obligations in more detail in the coming weeks. We have been led to understand that, as part of their AML Procedures, banks are checking the RBO register, before opening bank accounts for customers.
For the latest details on these obligations, see our AML Policies, Controls & Procedures Manual for 2021.
The Manual contains all the latest requirements relevant to accountants contained in the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts 2010 to 2021 now fully in force. Future blogs will look at various parts of the new and existing provisions of this legislation.
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