On 26 June 2017, the new German anti-money laundering act has entered into force. This law provides for the establishment of a German transparency register. According to the new law, all corporate companies and partnerships that are registered in the German commercial register are obliged to report their beneficial owner to the German transparency register. The same applies to other private law corporations and trusts.
Based on the Fourth Money Laundering Directive of the EU (No 2015/849; the 4MLD), the register shall allow more transparency inside of the companies with the intention to complicate the abuse of the financial system by terrorists, money launderers and other persons having controlling power. By centrally storing information about the beneficial owners of all corporate entities, foundations and trusts, the information can be made accessible to governmental authorities, who need to perform customer due diligence, and any other person who shows a legitimate interest in having such information. The register will probably be managed by the Federal Gazette publishing house. It will be in electronic form and the information will be presented in a chronological order.
A violation of the reporting requirements is a misdemeanor and hence may be fined. The upper limit of administrative fines for violations of the anti money laundering act has been increased from EUR 100,000 to EUR 1,000,000. Moreover, the transparency register will not be accessible to the general public. Businesses and individuals will be allowed access only to the extent necessary to comply with the KYC obligations under the anti money laundering or if they can show another legitimate interest.