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Company owners’ PPSN needed in database

A new register of businesses is set to include details of owners’ Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN).

The Irish Independent has learned that officials want the new Register of Beneficial Ownership – which will detail precise ownership of corporate entities in Ireland – to require firms to supply shareholders’ Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN) in order to ensure its accuracy.

Initially, the Irish register will be accessible by so-called financial intelligence units. However, the EU has already introduced updated plans to allow such registers to be eventually accessible by journalists and members of the public.

The database must be set up under the EU’s fourth money-laundering directive, commonly known as MLD4. Registers are being established across the bloc. The directive came into force last June, but has not yet been implemented in Ireland.

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) has insisted that the provision of PPSN numbers is an “essential measure” to make the register accurate, but details have yet to be finalised.

The CRO will act as registrar, responsible for the database, once the required statutory instrument has been introduced to give effect to MLD4. That had been expected before now.

The Department of Finance said that work on the statutory instrument (SI) to establish the central register is “ongoing”.

“We expect that an SI will issue shortly,” said a spokeswoman. “The date that the register will go live for submission of information is currently under discussion with the CRO, but we expect it to be a number of weeks after the SI is introduced.”

She also said that no final decision has been made regarding whether or not PPSN numbers will be required.

So far, the mandatory information that will need to be supplied by owners includes their full name, date of birth, country of residence, nationality and nature of business. Other details that will be required include the date on which each person became, or ceased to be, a beneficial owner.

At a recent meeting of the CRO’s stakeholder group, the need for the provision of PPSN numbers to shore up the accuracy of the planned register was relayed by one of the office’s senior employees, assistant registrar Gerry Doyle.

Mr Doyle told the meeting that the use of PPSNs as a unique identifier for business owners was still under consideration. Minutes for the meeting show that Mr Doyle said the use of PPSN numbers for this purpose was an “essential measure”.

“The [EU] directive requires that the register is accurate and the PPSN number is seen as the best way to ensure this functionality,” noted the meeting’s minutes.

The meeting also noted that while access to the Beneficial Ownership Register will initially be limited to financial intelligence units, “this could later be extended to State competent authorities”.

However, the EU has already updated its plans to increase access to beneficial ownership registers under the so-called Money Laundering Directive 5. The legal text of that directive is due to be published in the middle of this year.

By 2020, details of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts will be publicly available.

Additionally, members of the public will be able to request information on the beneficial ownership of a trust that owns a company that is not incorporated within the European Union.

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