Bulgarian entities which are obliged to disclose their ultimate beneficial owners (UBO) may commence fulfilling this obligation as early as February 1, 2019 and shall complete the mandatory registration within 4 months thereafter, i.e. by May 31, 2019. Pursuant to the latest amendments to the Law on Measures against Money Laundering (the “LMAML”), the deadline within which the Bulgarian Registry Agency shall take the necessary technical and administrative steps to enable registration of the information for beneficial ownership was extended to January 31, 2019. The latter leads automatically to extension of the term for completion of the required disclosure.
The related Ordinance No 1 on Administration, Maintenance and Access to the Commercial Register and the Register of Non-for-profit Organizations (the “Commercial Register Ordinance”) was recently amended and effective as of October 23, 2018, the functionalities and the application forms required for the registration of the UBO information into the Bulgarian Commercial Register are in place. It is expected that the Bulgarian government shall adopt the Regulation on the Implementation of the LMAML by December 31, 2018 and the latter shall provide for the forms which must be fill out for the relevant disclosure.
These amendments come further to the requirements of the new LMAML which was promulgated in March 2018 and was adopted in implementation of Directive (EU) 2015/849 (known also as the “Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive”). Pursuant to the LMAML all entities (including commercial companies, other forms of non-incorporated business organizations such as branches of foreign legal entities, and non-for-profit organizations) registered under Bulgarian law shall publicly disclose their UBO by registering in the Bulgarian Commercial Register (or the BULSTAT Register, as the case may be, depending on the type of the entity) information about their UBO. LMAML provides for a legal definition on this subject, defining beneficial owners as the natural persons who directly or indirectly own or control a legal entity. LMAML also describes in detail the criteria for identification of the beneficial ownership.