According to the Austrian Beneficial Owners Register Act (Wirtschaftliche Eigentümer Registergesetz, WiEReG) all Austrian legal entities – including Austrian private foundations and trusts – have to report their beneficial owners to a central register.
The WiEReG – the purpose of which is to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in accordance with EU directive 2015/849 – came into force on 15 January, but the beneficial owners have to be reported only by 1 June 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.
Provisions for Austrian private foundations
For private foundations pursuant to the Austrian Private Foundations Act the following natural persons are defined as beneficial owners:
- the founders
- all potential beneficiaries
- the group of beneficiaries (abstract notion of potential beneficiaries); if a person of the group of beneficiaries receives donation amounting to more than EUR 2,000 per calendar year, this person has to be reported for this specific calendar year
- the members of the foundation’s management board
- all other natural persons who ultimately control the private foundation in some other way
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 fulfil 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.
Provisions for trusts or similar agreements
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 favour 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:
- the settlor/trustor
- the trustees
- the protector (if applicable)
- the beneficiaries or – if the beneficiaries still have to be determined – the group of beneficiaries in whose interest the legal arrangement or legal person was established; if a person out of the group of beneficiaries receives donations amounting to more than EUR 2,000 per calendar year, this person has to be reported for this specific calendar year
- all other natural persons who ultimately control the trust in some other way
Data to be reported
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 EUR 200,000 in case of intentional infringement and up to EUR 100,000 in case of gross negligence.
If you would like to know more about the specific provisions for Austrian private foundations and trust, or generally about the Austrian Beneficial Owners Register Act, please visit the homepage of WTS Austria!