WiEReG – extensive duty-of-care and reporting requirements

08 March 2018 | newsletters austria

Download the German version of this article.

  • Austrian Law on the Ultimate Beneficial Owners Register (Wirtschaftliche Eigentümer Registergesetz – WiEReG): The WiEReG came into force on 15 January 2018.
  • Legal entities concerned: In particular all corporations (limited liability companies, stock companies), partnerships (general and limited partnerships), private foundations and associations, if they have their registered office in Austria.
  • Definition of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO): Any natural person who ultimately owns or controls the legal entity is considered its UBO. The WiEReG provides for different concepts of the respective legal entities. Especially in cases of complex ownership structures with several domestic or foreign participation levels, determining the UBO can be a challenging task.
  • Identification and reporting obligations: After having ascertained and verified the identity, all UBOs must be reported to the Register electronically via the Unternehmensserviceportal, stating their essential data. The accuracy and completeness of the reported data must be checked at least once a year to ensure that they are up-to-date.
  • Content of the notification: Full name, date and place of birth, nationality and residence of all UBOs as well as the nature and extent of the beneficial ownership. If an UBO does not reside in Austria, the notification must also include the UBO's ID number as well as the type of ID, and a copy of the ID must be submitted electronically.
  • Deadline: Complete notifications of all UBOs must be made by 1 June 2018 at the latest. Future changes must be reported within four weeks.
  • Penal provisions: Non-compliance with the reporting obligations (including failure to report a change) can be punished as intentional (fine of up to EUR 200,000) or grossly negligent (fine of up to EUR 100,000) financial offences. Complete notifications can be enforced by repeatedly imposing administrative fines of up to EUR 5,000.
  • Access to the register: The information in the register is not publicly available and access is clearly limited. Persons obliged to comply with the requirements under the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (e.g. credit institutions, insurance agents, attorneys) have access to the extent necessary to perform their due diligence obligations. Furthermore, certain authorities (e.g. tax authorities, criminal prosecution authorities) will have access. Other persons or organisations may be granted access only if a legitimate interest is credibly shown.
  • Notification to the register by the lawyer: Lawyers can make notifications to the register for their clients. Particularly in view of the massive threat of punishment, it is advisable to clarify the individual reporting requirement with a legal counsel.

We will be pleased to advise you in fulfilling the extensive obligations under this new and complex subject matter and to make the respective notification to the register for you.

Disclaimer: This teaser is for your information only and does not claim to be complete or accurate. Above all, it does not replace appropriate legal advice.

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Further reading:
Beneficial Ownership Register to be introduced in Austria
Mandatory registration of beneficial owners introduced for all Czech entities
WiEReG – Umfangreiche neue Pflichten für Privatstiftungen

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Roman Perner

Roman Perner

Partner

T: +43 1 534 37 50275
r.perner@schoenherr.eu

Christopher Jünger

Christopher Jünger

Associate

T: +43 1 534 37 50776
c.juenger@schoenherr.eu

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