In light of anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing measures, the Government of Albania has passed to the Albanian Parliament for approval, the draft law “On Register of Beneficial Owners”, after having conducted the public consultation of the draft law with the respective interest groups.
Referring to the actual regulatory framework in force, the data of private legal entities registered in the Republic of Albania, including inter alia data related to the scope of activity and the status of the partnership, are registered and administered by the National Business Center (“NBC”) for commercial entities and by the local courts for non-profit organizations. The Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (“MONEYVAL”) of the Council of Europe has recommended the establishment of a specific register for the purpose of identifying and registering the beneficial owners who own at least 25% of the shares of an offshore company that is registered in tax havens and performs its activity in Albania. Based on the above, the Ministry of Finance and Economy has drafted the law “On Register of Beneficial Owners” in line with the said recommendation of MONEYVAL.
The draft law defines the Register of Beneficial Owners (“The Register”) as an electronic database state register, in which beneficial owners are registered and, which collects in real time the data registered in the respective state registers administered by the public authorities. This Register shall be administered by the NBC and will serve as an official electronic archive that aims the transparency of beneficial owners. The entities obliged to report data of their beneficial owners under the new law, include commercial entities, companies and their branches, non-profit organizations and all other private legal entities which are registered with NBC’s register, excluding natural persons, religious communities, political parties and companies whose sole shareholder is a local/central state authority.
Based on the definitions of the draft law, a beneficial owner shall mean:
The existing reporting entities are obliged to identify, create and maintain the relevant documents in respect of their beneficiary owners not later than 30 calendar days from the entry into force of the draft law. The Ministry of Finance and Economy and National Agency of Information Society shall establish the Register no later than January 3, 2021. Existing reporting entities must register the data required by this draft law for their beneficiary owners no later than 60 calendar days from the establishment of the Register.
All the data of beneficial owners which are reflected in the Register shall be publicly available, save for certain sensitive data which can be accessed only by the persons authorized to represent the reporting entity and the competent public authorities, which have free, direct and unlimited electronic access to the data registered in the Register, in order to fulfill their legal duties related to the inspection of the Register of Beneficiary Owners and collection of beneficial owners’ data. Upon the written or electronic request of reporting entities and other interest parties, the NBC can issue an extract with information on beneficial owners which is publicly available based on the law.
The law also provides for the right of a person, who is registered as a beneficial owner of a reporting entity, to file a lawsuit against the reporting entity in the competent court, in order to prove that he/she is not the beneficial owner of this entity.
The fifth chapter of the draft law enlists the fines which are applicable to reporting entities and their legal representatives which do not comply with the requirements of the law regarding the registration and modification of data of beneficial owners. The amount of the fines varies from 150 000 ALL to 500 000 ALL. In case the violation is found repetitive, the amount of the fine is doubled.