Beneficial Owner

What is a Beneficial owner?

Updated over a week ago

A beneficial owner is someone who ultimately owns or controls a company, association or other type of legal entity. A beneficial owner can also be someone who benefits from someone else acting on their behalf.

You can find more information about beneficial owners here:

A firm shall always investigate if the customer has a beneficial owner and verify the identity of that person or persons. There can be more than one beneficial owner in a company. The firm shall investigate the customer’s ownership and control structures, in order to understand any potential risk posed by the customer. It is also important to determine whether the beneficial owner is a politically exposed person or not.

If the beneficial owner cannot be determined after investigation, the firm has to choose an alternative beneficial owner, usually the chairman of the board, managing director or equivalent executive. If the reason for the problem with determining the beneficial owner is due to impenetrable corporate structure, the firm has not obtained enough knowledge regarding the customer and no customer relationship can be established.

The only time there is no need to determine a beneficial owner is when the customer is a listed company on a regulated market or subsidiaries to a listed company. If the risk related to the business relationship is low, also municipalities, states or regions are excluded from the requirements.

It can be quite difficult to establish who the beneficial owner is and to find out who ultimately owns the company. The AML-regulations set up a presumption that a person who got more than 25 percent of the voting rights in the company has the ultimate control over the company, but it can also be a person without shares and voting rights who for example control the company through company agreement or similar. It is important to control the owner structure since a person can be the beneficial owner due to ownership through several layers of companies.

The majority of Swedish companies must report a beneficial owner to the Swedish Companies Registration Office. As a firm you have to control the information from the customer regarding beneficial owners with the register.

The risk assessment must be documented and evaluated and updated regularly, at least once a year. When the firm offers new products and services, there is also a need for an update.

The national risk assessment, developed by the Swedish “Samordningsfunktionen”, can also give some guidance to the risks the firm has to consider, National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Sweden 2020/2021

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