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RCBE: New rules and obligations in Portugal

A recent publication of Order n.º 233/2018, dated August 21, 2018, has clarified and specified the provisions of the Legal Regime of the Central Register of Beneficial Owners (RCBE). This complements the provisions of Law 89/2017, of August 21, which approved this regime, also reinforcing the elements set out in Law 83/2017, of August 18, governing the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The main purpose of these regulations is to regulate the practical implementation of RCBE standards, particularly with regard to deadlines, forms, reporting obligations and access to information.

New regulations concerning the Central Register of Beneficial Owners (RCBE) in Portugal: What you need to know

The BCR has been set up to collect accurate, up-to-date information on the beneficial owners of certain entities, in accordance with the 4th Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Directive (AMLD 4). At the same time, the adoption of the Directive (EU) 2016/2258 (DAC 5) facilitates access to and exchange of information between the tax administrations of EU Member States, strengthening control over tax planning activities which previously escaped this process.

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Regulations and Mandatory Declarations

Ordinance n.º 233/2018, of August 21, regulates the RCBE and specifies several aspects, including:

  • Beneficial owner declaration forms, which will be available online and can be authenticated by various means (e.g. identity card, digital mobile key, professional certificates, etc.).
  • The circumstances determining the status of beneficial owner, in accordance with the provisions of Law 83/2017
  • Deadlines for the communication of information to the RCBE by the Registre Central des Personnes Morales and the tax authorities.
  • Making information on beneficial owners publicly available and search procedures.
  • How to extract information from the database.
  • Deadlines for the first declaration of entities already existing under the RCBE regime.
  • The procedures for communicating obligated entities to the sector authorities for identification purposes.

Penalties and tax consequences

Failure to comply with RCBE can result in severe penalties, with fines ranging from €1,000 to €50,000. Offending entities are also severely restricted in their activities. In addition, restrictive measures are imposed until reporting obligations are fulfilled.

In addition to these sanctions, there are tax implications, such as the application of anti-abuse standards, facilitated by the exchange of information between tax authorities. These exchanges enable better application of anti-abuse tax standards, such as the general anti-abuse clause provided for in the General Tax Law.

In addition to fulfilling their reporting obligations, entities subject to the BCR must also identify their beneficial owners and gather precise information about them. This can be a complex task, as the mere ownership of shares is not always enough to determine who really controls the entity.

In summary, the regulations brought about by Ordinance n.º 233/2018 highlight the procedures and responsibilities of entities subject to the RCBE, underlining the importance of complying with the deadlines and reporting obligations set out in this text.

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