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24 September 2021 / news

Beneficial Ownership Registers: The STEP Handbook for Advisers

This book, co-published with STEP, the world’s leading organisation for private wealth professionals, provides an in-depth analysis of the beneficial ownership registers legislation in a number of EU jurisdictions as well as in the UK, which pioneered it with the creation of its own ‘PSC Register’. Our colleagues Saskia Lust and Stephanie Van Gils looked at the Belgian side of these issues. You can read more about them below.

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Beneficial ownership registers were introduced in the European Union (EU) under the 4th and 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive, with the ultimate goal of promoting increased transparency in the financial markets. Nevertheless, public access to the beneficial ownership information of companies and other legal arrangements, such as trusts, raises significant issues in relation to each individual's fundamental right to privacy, and consequently many EU member states are still struggling to strike the right balance between transparency and privacy. As a result, the implementation of beneficial ownership registers has been delayed in many EU member states and different legislative choices have been made in the various jurisdictions. Since beneficial ownership registers do not only apply to entities incorporated or administered in an EU jurisdiction, but may also extend to foreign entities with some business connection to that jurisdiction, it is essential to master these differences.

This book includes coverage of:

  • The functioning of beneficial ownership registers in selected EU jurisdictions;
  • The differences between the beneficial ownership registers for companies and those for trusts, which are maintained in many EU member states;
  • Practical comparisons on the possibility for individual beneficial owners to apply for their personal information to be withheld from public access;
  • The ways of complaint in case such an application is not accepted; and
  • Special cases such as the treatment of an EU company controlled by a trust or a foundation.

The first to comprehensively approach this topic, this title will benefit private client advisers (lawyers, notaries, accountants) and family officers whose clients have business interests in the EU. The registration of the details of beneficial owners has become a new variable to be considered in any estate planning or asset protection exercise and more generally in any circumstance where a company or any other legal arrangement is created. It is therefore essential reading for anyone involved in any of these fields.

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