More than 180,000 Irish businesses face fines of up to €500,000 as they are yet to comply with new EU anti-white collar crime and money laundering rules, according to figures from the Beneficial Ownership Registrar.
The vast majority of companies in Ireland are required to submit information on their beneficial owners to a new central register by Friday 22 November or risk significant fines.
However, only 21% of companies out of some 234,000 Irish-based businesses have submitted information since the Beneficial Ownership Register opened for filing in July, according to recent figures.
A beneficial owner, for the purposes of this legislation, is a natural person who directly or indirectly owns or controls over 25% of a relevant entity, or who controls that entity by other means"
The information required includes each beneficial owner's name, residential address, nationality, date of birth, PPS number and the nature and extent of their ownership or control of the company.
Relevant entities are required to provide details for the entity's senior managing officials if its beneficial owners cannot be identified. The same details must be entered on the register for a senior managing official as for any beneficial owner.
Bodies incorporated before June this year have until November 22nd to submit the information that will ultimately be available to the gardaí, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Financial Intelligence Unit and other bodies.
John Burns, the regional development manager in Ireland for the Chartered Governance Institute, said that "IT glitches and delays have meant that a six-month period to have these owners registered has been seriously affected". He called for clarity on whether there will be an extension to the filing date, given the issues that have arisen, the Irish Times reported.
"A beneficial owner, for the purposes of this legislation, is a natural person who directly or indirectly owns or controls over 25% of a relevant entity, or who controls that entity by other means," Nick Metcalfe, corporate governance and compliance partner at law firm Mason Hayes and Curran, said.
He added that "each body corporate to which the regulations apply" is required to provide the gardai, Revenue, Criminal Assets Bureau, Central Bank, Law Society and Bar Council with access to information on its internal register on request.
Irish authorities are then allowed to share that information with corresponding organisations in other EU members states.
Banks, law firms and members of the public will also be allowed access to limited information, although a €2.50 will apply to private citizens to access the register.