In June last year, I posted a Blog regarding European Parliament proposals under draft anti-money laundering rules for public registries of trusts. (See http://www.murraybeith.co.uk/blog?id=15). The terms of the EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive were finally agreed at the end of 2014 and the good news is that these are much less far reaching than previous drafts of the Directive.
The final version of the Directive still requires all EU member states to establish publically accessible registers of the ultimate owners of companies (which the UK Government is already pursuing). A Trust, however, only requires to be registered if it “generates tax consequences” and access to that register will be limited to competent authorities. It is currently understood that the information required for Trusts will be extracted from existing trust tax returns and no additional compliance will be required by Trustees.
The EU Parliament appears to have recognised that trusts are not secret structures used to avoid tax. In contrast, trusts are a legitimate form of organising family affairs and, as such, entitled to some degree of confidentiality.