Sunday 18 August 2019

Register of business owners misses launch date

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

THE launch of Ireland’s Register of Beneficial Ownership – which will give precise details of the ownership of corporate entities and provident societies in Ireland – has been delayed by the Companies Registration Office (CRO). It was meant to go live last Saturday.

However, there has been an outstanding issue involving the verification of the identity of people who do not have PPS numbers – one of the previously-stated requirements of the register.

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The Small Firms’ Association also urged the CRO in a stakeholder meeting this month to postpone the launch of the register until November.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said the register is expected to open “in a number of weeks”.

Deirdre Mooney, the head of company secretarial at law firm William Fry, also told the CRO that she had concerns about requesting PPSN (Personal Public Service Numbers) or passport numbers from her clients given the risks typically associated with data possession and retention.

The Register of Beneficial Ownership (RBO) must be set up under the EU’s fourth money-laundering directive, commonly known as MLD4. Registers are being established across the bloc.

Last year, the CRO said the supply of PPSN numbers was an “essential measure” to ensure the register’s accuracy.

But at the stakeholder meeting this month, the CRO said that while it would be possible to ask shareholders and directors of firms and other corporate entities to obtain a PPSN, “such a requirement could be onerous”. There’s a substantial number of directors and shareoholders of Irish entities who are not Irish or not living in Ireland.

“We are exploring other alternatives to try and find something which would not be so onerous but would meet the threshold of verifying the identity of beneficial owners who don’t have a PPSN,” the CRO said at the meeting.

The CRO is also in the midst of a major refresh of its own computer systems, but the initiative has been delayed.

“The RBO project is currently absorbing large amounts of system development resources and must be our main focus,” it noted.

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