Businesses urged to declare all beneficiaries to Bipa

Business owners should declare all individuals who directly or indirectly enjoy substantial economic benefits or influence the transaction decisions of a business.

The new Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) requirement means all registered businesses should file a beneficial ownership form.

According to Bipa spokesperson Ockert Jansen, this provision states that any person who directly or indirectly has control or influence over a business is regarded as a beneficial owner.

“Beneficial ownership also refers to when a person receives substantial economic or financial benefits from this business and therefore should be declared,” Jansen says.

When a substantial amount leaves a business and goes to a specific person, who is not a supplier or debtor, that person is considered a beneficial owner, he says.

A beneficial owner enjoys the benefits of ownership even though the title of some form of property is in another name.

This could be a member, director or a shareholder.

For example, politicians may not want their home addresses to be available on public records, so they do not personally appear on title deeds.

“The law requires that every registered business must declare their beneficial owners,” Jansen says.

He says this requirement was also introduced as a way of curbing money laundering.

“An assessment done showed that businesses like CCs and companies are being used as a cover-up to conduct money laundering and other financial crimes – that is why it is ever more important for people to declare their true beneficial owners, allowing for transparency,” Jansen says.

He says when beneficial ownership information is available, it enhances investigations of financial misconduct.

According to Jansen, beneficial ownership forms should be updated whenever material changes, which affect a change in the beneficial ownership of the CC or company are introduced.

Businesses are required to complete beneficial ownership forms when registering, however, businesses that were already registered before the regulation kicked in should submit this at the end of their financial year.

“When you register a new entity, you will automatically be asked or required to submit your first BO declaration, meaning you will be compliant for at least 12 months,” Jansen says.

He says submission of the form is free of charge, however, the failure to submit it within a given time frame may see businesses being charged with penalties.

“These existing registered entities are required to submit their beneficial ownership forms by their financial year-end, or during a period of amendment.”

– email:shania@namibian.com, Twitter: @ShaniaLazarus

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