January 2020 target for Dutch UBO register, despite criticism

Photo: Rijksoverheid
Photo: Rijksoverheid

Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra is pressing ahead with plans to introduce a company and trust ownership register which will list shareholdings of over 25% and which will be accessible to the general public.

The aim of the register is to give clarity about the ‘ultimate beneficial owner’ of a non-listed company or foundation, to boosting transparency and help to combat financial crime such as money laundering.

‘Transparency contributes to the identification and detection of people who use, or better said, misuse, the financial system to launder their assets or finance terrorism,’ Hoekstra said.

Private individuals will be able to have their information kept secret if they have fears about becoming blackmail or kidnap targets, the minister said.

The decision to set up the UBO register derives from European legislation but it has been criticised because of the privacy implications – particularly because it will be open to everyone.

In particular, wealthy individuals and families may move their assets abroad to avoid information about them becoming public, family firm lobby group FBNed warned in the Financieele Dagblad.

The draft legislation has now been submitted to parliament and Hoekstra hopes it will become law by January 2020, three years after the original deadline.

In some other EU countries, including Germany and France, the register is not open to the public.

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