Beneficial ownership of trusts

Written by
Claire Tuohy on
20 October 2021

In brief:  

New Regulations on beneficial ownership of express trusts are in place. As a consequence- 

  • Revenue have established a Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Trusts (CRBOT) 
  • Trustees of existing express trusts have until 23rd October 2021 to make filings 
  • Trusts are required to keep internal beneficial ownership registers (carried over from 2019 regulations) and to file beneficial ownership information to a Central Register. 

The filing deadline of 23 October 2021 for the newly created Central Register for the Beneficial Ownership of Trusts (CRBOT) is fast approaching.  Claire Tuohy, solicitor and Society of Trust and Estate Practitioner, gives a practical rundown of what this means for trusts and trustees. 

Background 

The 4th and 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directives require each EU Member State to establish a Central Register for the Beneficial Ownership of Trusts (CRBOT).  Legislation was introduced on 23rd April 2021 to transpose those requirements into Irish law. 

What is the CRBOT? 

It is a central register, maintained by the Revenue Commissioners.  Trustees of ‘relevant trusts’ are obliged to file details of ‘beneficial owners’ on CRBOT. The purpose of it is to provide transparency on who ultimately controls and benefits from the trust. 

Who does it affect? 

The net is wide. Trustees of any ‘relevant trusts’ formed on or after 23rd April 2021 come within the ambit of the regulations. 

A ‘relevant trust’ for the purposes of the regulations is an express trust established by deed or other declaration in writing. This would include the following common trust arrangements:- 

  • Family trusts; 
  • Declarations of trusts (for example concerning shares or property); 
  • Bare trusts (for minors or others); 
  • Charitable trusts; and 
  • Will trusts. 

What action do Trustees need to take? 

Trustees of relevant trusts are obliged to collect information on the beneficial owners of the relevant trust and set up an and maintain that information on an internal register.  

The details of the beneficial owner to be recorded include:- 

  • Name; 
  • Date of birth; 
  • Nationality; 
  • Residential address; 
  • Details of the nature of the interest or control held by the beneficial owner; 
  • The PPS number of each beneficial owner (or foreign tax registration numbers or passport number where the beneficial owner is not resident in the State or does not have a PPS number); 
  • Date on which the beneficial owner was entered on the internal register; and 
  • Date on which the beneficial owner ceased to be a beneficial owner. 

If the beneficial owner is a legal entity the information to be filed is:- 

  • Name of legal entity; 
  • Registered address of legal entity. 
  • Details of the nature of the interest or control held by the beneficial owner; and 
  • Details of each individual beneficial owner of the legal entity. 

Secondly, trustees need to file this information on the CRBOT maintained by the Revenue Commissioners and keep the information on the register up to date. 

Who is a ‘beneficial owner’? 

For the purposes of the regulations a ‘beneficial owner’ includes:- 

  • An individual who has a vested interest in a trust; 
  • The class of individuals in whose interest the trust operates (for example the class of beneficiaries under a discretionary trust); 
  • The settlor; 
  • The trustee; 
  • The protector; and 
  • Legal personal representatives of estates in administration during the administration period. 

Who will have access to the register? 

Only certain persons can access the information contained on the CRBOT and different levels of access are available. 

Competent authorities’ will have unrestricted access to CRBOT. These include the Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau. 

Members of the public may be granted restricted access to the CRBOT if they can show a ‘legitimate interest’. An application must be made by way of submission of the Registrar of the CRBOT. 

Penalties 

A trustee who fails to comply with the regulations is deemed to commit an offence and shall be liable to fines of up to €500,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months. 

The deadline? 

Relevant trusts created on or before 23rd April have a registration deadline of 23rd October 2021 to file beneficial ownership details with the Revenue Commissioners. Relevant trusts created after that date must file within six months of the creation of the trust. 

If a trustee needs assistance with any of the above HOMS Assist can help. 

Key Contact: Claire Tuohy, solicitor and Society of Trust and Estates Practitioner. 061 449 427 or email claire.tuohy@homsassist.ie