The fourth anti-money laundering directive (AMLD) will for the first time oblige EU member states to keep central registers of information on the ultimate "beneficial" owners of corporate and other legal entities, as well as trusts. These central registers were not envisaged in the European Commission’s initial proposal, but were included by MEPs in negotiations.
The text also sets out specific reporting obligations for banks, auditors, lawyers, real estate agents and casinos, among others, on suspicious transactions made by their clients.
"Legitimate interest" access to ownership registers
The central registers will be accessible to the authorities and their financial intelligence units (without any restriction), to "obliged entities" (such as banks doing their "customer due diligence" duties), and also to the public (although public access may be subject to online registration of the person requesting it and to a fee to cover administrative costs).
To access a register, a person or organisation (e.g. investigative journalists or NGOs) will in any event have to demonstrate a "legitimate interest" in suspected money laundering, terrorist financing and in “predicate” offences that may help to finance them, such as corruption, tax crimes and fraud.