Register of Beneficial Owners: A tool to enhance the transparency of corporate entities – Presentation by the Minister of Commerce and Industry

An important tool for enhancing transparency, preventing and combating the use of companies and other legal entities for money laundering and terrorist financing, has been adopted by the Republic of Cyprus in the context of alignment with the Acquis. This is the creation of the Central Register of Beneficial Owners for companies and other legal entities, the electronic application of which started on March 16, 2021. Competent Authority for keeping the Register is the Companies Registrar Department of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry.

Yesterday Tuesday 6th, an online seminar was held by the Project Team for the modernization of the Registrar of Companies, in collaboration with its external collaborators who analyzed the legal and technical aspects of the whole project.

Introducing the seminar, the Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry, Ms. Natasa Pilidou, stressed that money laundering, as well as the financing of terrorism and organized crime, remain significant problems of the international community, which is why the European Union is trying to regulate them centrally.

“”In this context and with the aim of improving transparency, the Republic of Cyprus, in line with the provisions of the European Directives, harmonized its legal framework for the establishment, operation and maintenance of the Register of Real Beneficiary Companies and other legal entities by the Registrar of Companies. developing, at the same time, an intermediate solution of an information system for the collection of this information, until the development of the final solution of a system that is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2022 “.

As Ms. Pilidou informed the interested parties, the time period for the registration of the data in the interim solution of the Register of Real Beneficiaries is 12 months. It is worth noting that the EU aims to link national Beneficiary Registers through a European central platform.

Beneficiary is any natural person who actually owns or actually controls a corporate entity, or the natural person on whose behalf transactions or activities of a company are conducted. “We must realize that recording accurate and up-to-date information about the real beneficiary is a key factor in locating criminals who might otherwise be hiding their identities behind a corporate structure,” Ms Pileidou explained.

There are two phases: An interim gateway solution which was presented which will be followed by the finalized gateway.

During the interim solution only the following persons will have access to the information about the real beneficiary through the Register, without restrictions on access and upon submission of a written request to the Registrar of Companies:

  • The competent supervisory authorities.
  • The Unit for Combating Money Laundering  (MOKAS).
  • The Customs Department.
  • The Department of Taxation.
  • The Police.

During the interim solution, the obligated entities and the members of the general public will not have any access to the information kept in the Register.

For the access and registration of the data in the intermediate solution, a necessary condition is the creation of a corporate profile in the government web portal “Ariadne”.

As the Minister explained, it is possible to facilitate all those involved in the process of identification and activation of company profile, by opening more identification points. In addition to the Citizens Service Center , the process of identification and activation of a company profile takes place at the Companies Registry Department in Nicosia and at the provincial offices of the Ministry in Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca / Famagusta. The possibility of activating an identification process through banks is also being studied, as she mentioned, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Innovation. More details on this topic will be announced in due course.

We would like to stress that , the time period for the registration of the data in the interim solution of the Register of Real Beneficiaries is 12 months from 16th March 2021.

The full communication in Greek can be found here.