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EU Drops Public Naming Of Ultimate Beneficiaries

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The European Union (EU) Parliament and the national Governments of the EU member states have reached a compromise position whereby they must maintain centralized registers of the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts but they will not be available to the public.

The newly proposed measures, which come out of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, require that persons accessing the register have a "legitimate interest."

Originally the register was intended to extend only to companies but the Parliament pressed for its extension to other legal forms (such as trusts) and for it to be made public.

The United Kingdom Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) had previously voiced concerns about the proposed public register for trusts, arguing that it would be unnecessarily intrusive into the financial affairs of families who often create such structures to protect the interests of vulnerable family members.

STEP's deputy chief executive George Hodgson described the recent compromise as a "pragmatic solution that would minimize bureaucracy and ensure that families can maintain their fundamental right to respect for a private family life."

The proposals are expected to come into force in 2017.