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Thousands of businesses risk heavy fines after failing to comply with November RBO cut-off

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MORE than two months after a deadline elapsed, tens of thousands of companies and provident societies have still failed to comply with a legal requirement to ensure their details are on the new Register of Beneficial Ownership (RBO).

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) said that as of the end of January, 21pc of companies here had still not registered, while 43pc of industrial and provident societies were also deficient in filing details. Failure to register can attract fines of up to €500,000.

The mandatory RBO was established under the EU's fourth money laundering directive, commonly known as MLD4.

The registers are being established across the trading bloc and contain beneficial ownership details of all companies and societies established in each state.

The deadline for filing details was November 22.

A failure to have beneficial ownership details filed with the RBO can see companies and societies hit with fines of €5,000 on summary conviction, and up to €500,000 on indictment.

Despite the threat of those penalties - which could hit small firms particularly hard - thousands of entities have still failed to register.

The CRO said that as of the end of January, 175,000 or 79pc of companies had registered details with the RBO, while 57pc (549) of industrial and provident societies had also registered.

That compares with 74pc of companies that had filed details by mid-December and 55pc of societies.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said in December that each delinquent company would be examined on a case-by-case basis, with a "practical and proportionate approach".

It said in the first instance, the registrar would issue a letter reminding a company of its obligation to file.

But the Companies Registration Office has warned that delinquent companies face the risk of enforcement proceedings being taken against them.

"We will initially send a reminder letter, but this will be likely to extend to prosecution at some point in the future as we are legally required to ensure that the RBO is adequate, accurate and current," it has told stakeholders.

Irish Independent