A delegation of nine representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Economy, Business Register Agency and the Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering, took part in a study visit to better understand the practices in the setup and implementation of beneficial ownership registries in Malta. The visit took place from 7 to 8 September 2022, within the Project “Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Serbia” .
The knowledge gained during this activity and the increased awareness of the challenges for maintaining reliable beneficial ownership information will contribute to the implementation of mechanisms to further strengthen the transparency of beneficial ownership in the Republic of Serbia, by alignment of the legal provisions and implementation arrangements with the best practices at the EU level. The representatives of the Malta Business Registry (MBR) explained in detail the major aspects and the evolution of the legislative framework which enabled effective implementation of the BO Register in Malta. In addition, MBR acquainted the participants with the design of the BO Register, procedures for registering, development of automated and manual reports, supervision and sanctioning of the obliged entities on a risk-sensitive basis. Serbian authorities have used the opportunity to gain insight on the practical solutions applied in the registration of trusts, verification of the beneficial owner data, the use of data forms and the respective legislative amendments to support those tools.
In the second part of the study visit, representatives of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit in Malta (FIAU) presented methods to use the beneficial ownership register in support of the financial intelligence analysis and supervisory activities, and explained the inter-institutional approach to monitoring compliance of the private sector with the BO requirements. The practices of the FIAU in this regard were demonstrated by actual cases of money laundering pursued by the Unit.
Taking advantage of the insights gained through the study visit and on the outputs of other activities implemented by the Project “PMLTF in Serbia”, the Ministry of Economy is currently finalising new draft legislation in the area of BO transparency which is expected to be adopted by the end of 2022.
The Project “Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Serbia” is funded by Sweden, represented by the Swedish International Development Agency and implemented by the Council of Europe.