Beneficial Owner Law Enters into Force, Companies Must Register Owners

As of today, all companies and non-governmental organizations will be required to register their beneficial owners, board members, and ultimate beneficial owners with the National Business Centre.

The Centre announced that the government has approved the DCM that will set forth the requirement and procedure for registration.

In July 2020, Parliament approved the law on “Beneficial Owners” which aims to bring transparency to companies and their owners that operate in and from Albania. The law will apply to all businesses and companies as well as NGOs that are in Albania or have a branch here. The law came following a MoneyVal recommendation that would help prevent money laundering in the country.

Additionally, as per the 5th AML Directive from the European Union, corporate entities in each country are required to register ultimate beneficial owners and beneficial owners on a centralised register. This information is then publicly available to anyone and any time. When Albania finally joins the EU it will be required to bring local laws in line with the applicable AML directive at that time.

In an interview with Exit in November 2019, Gianluca Esposito, the Executive Director of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) at the CoE said that money laundering and economic crime remain a threat for Albania. He noted that while on paper there is a “high level of political commitment” there is still work to be done.

He reiterated the importance of enforcing laws and legislation, not just creating them.

Failure to comply with the law will result in financial penalties.

In November, two economists Pano Soko and Zef Preci said they didn’t think the law would be implemented, or if it was, it would not be truly functional.