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The General Laws Amendment Act, aimed at Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing, enacted on 29 December 2022, impose new disclosure requirements on beneficial ownership structures and standardise the definition of beneficial ownership across various Acts, including the Companies Act.

These updates to the Companies Act now identify a beneficial owner as a person who wields or exercises effective control over a company, whether directly or indirectly. In light of these amendments, businesses were required as of 1 April 2023 to commence preparations to comply with disclosure obligations concerning company beneficial ownership declarations, calling on the expertise of their company secretarial services.

Understanding Company Beneficial Ownership Declarations

Complex corporate structures are frequently used to preserve the privacy of wealthy individuals and their families, or mitigate risks associated with sizable family businesses. However, these structures can be manipulated to conceal illegal activities such as money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion. The success of law enforcement in uncovering these illegal activities depends on obtaining precise beneficial ownership information from reliable institutions. As a result, a lack of transparency presents substantial obstacles that intensify the demand for reliable and accurate information regarding these structures.

Company beneficial ownership declarations aim to ensure institutions have access to precise, current, and authenticated data, thereby fortifying the fight against illegal financial activity. This has led to the establishment of a Beneficial Ownership Register, filled via the Company Beneficial Ownership Declaration process.

Which Entities Must File These Declarations?

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) records legal owners. However, this institution does not track company shareholders and beneficial owners. The objective of the General Laws Amendment Act is for the CIPC to create and maintain a registry that includes accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership data. Non-registration of this information would be deemed non-adherence to the Companies Act and could result in an administrative penalty.

Under these changes, the following entities will be required to file beneficial ownership declarations:

  • Profit companies
  • Non-profit companies
  • External companies
  • Close Corporations

How to Meet Disclosure Requirements For Your Company Beneficial Ownership Declarations

Company secretarial services offer several benefits for accurately filing company beneficial ownership declarations with the CIPC, such as ensuring that all necessary information is correctly filed in compliance with the outlined regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties, saving time during the filing preparation, and offering expert guidance throughout the procedure.

At MMS Group, we are serious about the compliance status of your business. Our experts offer a deep understanding of the legal and regulatory landscape and possess the necessary expertise to ensure that all required information is correctly filed and fully compliant with the outlined regulations. Reach out to our team for more information.

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