According to the Austrian “Beneficial Owners Register Act” („Wirtschaftliche Eigentümer Registergesetz”, “WiEReG”) all Austrian legal entities have to report their beneficial owners to a central register. The purpose of the WiEReG is to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in accordance with EU directive 2015/849. The beneficial owners have to be reported by June 1st, 2018 (unless an exemption or exclusion applies).
Specific provisions exist for foundations (e.g. private foundations according to the Austrian Private Foundations Act or foundations and funds according to the Federal Foundation and Fund Act 2015) and trusts (or agreements similar to a trust) which are domiciled in Austria or are managed from Austria.
For private foundations pursuant to the Austrian Private Foundations Act the following natural persons are defined as beneficial owners:
The term „beneficiary“ is determined pursuant to the Austrian Private Foundations Act. If one of the above functions mentioned is executed by a legal person the beneficial owners of the legal person have to be identified and reported as those natural persons who ultimately control the private foundation.
The private foundation itself has to take the necessary measures in order to fulfill the reporting obligation. Consequently, the members of the foundation's management board – as the responsible body – have to make sure the beneficial owners are identified and reported. It has to be mentioned that also legal advisors (tax consultant, lawyer, notary) are entitled to undertake the notification.
The term „trust“ is defined as follows: A trust is a legal arrangement created by either living persons or by testamentary disposition in which assets will be held by a trustee in favor of a beneficiary or a specific purpose.
For trusts and for other arrangements similar in function and structure to a trust the following persons are defined as beneficial owners if the trust is domiciled and/or managed in Austria:
In principle for every beneficial owner the following data have to be reported: surname and last name; place of residence (for non-residents: number and nature of an official photo identification); date and place of birth; nationality; nature and scope of the economic interest.
Reporting violations carry a financial penalty of up to 200.000 € in case of intentional infringement and up to 100.000 € in case of gross negligence.
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