Many of you will know that the UK has now passed legislation requiring the beneficial ownership of UK registered companies to be held on a publicly available register by June 2016. The exact detail of what has to appear on the register at Companies House is yet to be confirmed.
With companies in the spotlight, it was only a matter of time before trusts came under similar scrutiny. It was clear from the recitals to the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (4AMLD) that trusts and similar structures should not be given comparatively favourable treatment. Therefore Article 31 of the 4AMLD provided, among other things, that Member States should require trustees to hold accurate information about the settlor, trustees and beneficiaries. The trustees should also provide that information to a central register. However, only trustees of a trust which ‘generates tax consequences’ were obliged to do so.
Separately, in November 2014 at the G20 Brisbane summit, the UK Government committed to implementing the G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency. What this commitment will involve has now been published and essentially we have a flavour of how the UK Government will interpret its obligations under the 4AMLD.