In the National Assembly | 05 March 2020
Parliament approves anti-money laundering, beneficial ownership bills
Following two days of discussions and examination, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financial Terrorism (AML/CFT) bill was approved by the National Assembly and is waiting to be assented into law.
The AML/CFT bill, which expects to improve the legal, regulatory institutional frameworks to tackle money laundering and deter the financing of terrorist organisations, was approved with a vote of 24 to 0.
The members of the National Assembly yesterday also approved the Beneficiary Ownership bill – the second bill of the week which complements the AML/CFT bill as well as government’s efforts to boost Seychelles’ AML/CFT regime and improve compliance to international standards.
The Beneficiary Ownership bill is means to address a deficiency in current legislation which was identified by the ESAAMLG (Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group) and, as a result, lowered Seychelles’ ratings in terms of compliance and effectiveness.
When presenting the Beneficiary Ownership bill to the National Assembly yesterday, Minister Maurice Loustau-Lalanne further explained that the bill also aims to “protect the financial sector from abuse and ensure transparency in regards to taxes”.
The bill seeks to clarify who are the owners of a company, who or what entity controls its transactions and who benefits from these transactions, Minister Loustau-Lalanne continued.
Under current legislation, companies are only required to disclose their directors and not necessarily of their shareholders.
On the other hand, the Beneficiary Ownership bill proposes that both offshore and local companies will have to make available information about their shareholders.
“The necessity for this new legislation is even more pronounced when we consider entities which are formed with complex structures where numerous companies, foundations and trusts are involved in the ownership chain. There are instances in which setting up these entities is justifiable but there are also cases when they are misused as a buffer for illegal activities,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne highlighted.
“To fight against these and protect the global financial system, it is pivotal to have transparency in regards to the beneficial ownership of these entities.”
Failure to maintain a register of owners or maintain accurate and up to date information is an offence, sanctionable with a fee not exceeding R50,000.