Finance Ministry: Less than week left to register beneficial owners

Companies, nonprofits and foundations registered in Estonia, including businesses with just one owner, are required to submit information regarding their actual beneficiaries to the Commercial Register by Tuesday, 30 October.

While 30 October is the deadline for beneficial ownership reporting, the opportunity to file such reports will remain permanently, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday.

The data can be filed via the company registration portal of the Commercial Register, where pre-filled forms with the names of actual beneficiaries can be found on most businesses and associations. The pre-filled forms can be amended and then submitted. Data can also be filed via notaries.

The requirement to report their actual beneficiaries applies to all businesses in the EU on the basis of the union's 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

In Estonia, altogether 218,000 businesses and associations, including around 186,000 private limited companies and 22,000 nonprofit associations, are required to file information about their beneficiaries. As of 23 October, 88,682 businesses and associations had filed their data, naming 137,053 beneficiaries in total.

For the purposes of the law, in the case of companies, a beneficial owner is the natural person who ultimately owns or controls a legal person through direct or indirect ownership of a sufficient percentage of the shares or voting rights or ownership interest in that person, including through bearer shareholdings, or through control via other means.

Direct ownership means a natural person holding a shareholding of 25% plus one share or an ownership interest of more than 25% in a company. Indirect ownership means a company which is under the control of a natural person or multiple companies which are under the control of the same natural person holding a shareholding of 25% plus one share or an ownership interest of more than 25% in a company.

In the case of nonprofit associations, beneficiaries are the persons who control the activities of the association.

The duty to retain and gather data on the beneficial owner, which entered into force in Estonia on 1 September, originates from chapter 9 of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act.

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