Corporate schemes: the heart of the Beneficial Ownership Database

Los esquemas societarios: el corazón de la Base de Datos de Titularidad Real

Mariano García Freano, Headof the Analysis and Communication Unit of the Centralized Body for the Prevention of Money Laundering of the Notary Public, talks acout the differences between the Beneficial Ownership Database and the RETIR. In addition, he values the strengthening of the culture of compliance within the organization thanks to new training aimed at notaries

The Beneficial Ownership Database and RETIR are allies against Money Laundering in Spain

By Andreína Monasterio Andrade | Transparency International España



Spain has two important instruments in the Prevention of Money Laundering (PBC): The Registry of Beneficial Ownership (RETIR, for its acronym in spanish) and the Beneficial Owner Database, both available to authorities and obliged subjects who have some investigative power. These advances have made the country take steps forward in the fight against corruption in international transactions, as recognized by Transparency International in its Exporting Corruption 2020 report.

Mariano García Fresno, head of the Analysis and Communication Unit of the OCP (belonging to the General Council of Notaries, CGN), highlights the contribution that the Beneficial Ownership Database means for a good practice of notaries before operations that could be considered risky. This database was created by agreement of the CGN of March 24, 2012, in response to the need to reinforce due diligence measures aimed at verifying the beneficial ownership of customers.

García Fresno also highlights that the General Direction of the Treasury and Foreign Policy included it in its 2014 regulations, precisely, as a valid resource to carry out this verification. But how does it differ from another equally important tool, the RETIR?

“The European databases are based on statements made once a year, once every six months or each time the real owner of the representative of a company changes,” explains García Fresno. In the case of the Beneficial Ownership Database, the credited data is based on who has bought and who has sold on a date and what percentages the parties handle.

“The heart of our database is the verified and accredited information of the participations”, says García Fresno. The Beneficial Ownership Database provides information on corporate schemes; not only registers the majority shareholders. In addition, it is updated from 14 days after operations; that is, more frequently than the RETIR (which is usually done annually).

This database is open to obligated subjects; Police, Civil Guard, Social Security and any body with the power to investigate. However, to access its content you need an agreement signed with the CGN. Something similar occurs with the RETIR, which is a public registry that is restricted to obligated subjects authorized by means of a Collaboration Agreement with the Association of Property, Mercantile and Movable Property Registrars of Spain (CORPME).

Reinforce the notarial culture of compliance

Mariano García Fresno participated in the development of a training and awareness program for the Prevention of Money Laundering, which is in its first edition. This program, available on YouTube for CGN staff, shows practical PBC cases in a “miniseries” format.

This first edition consists of an introductory video, three practical case videos and a closing video. García Fresno has received very positive feedback from the general staff of the CGN, as well as notaries, and the implementation of this program has led to training in other topics.

“While this program is relatively new, we have seen a lot of consultation. People see it and have doubts. I think we will see the benefits in the application in the medium term. Especially with regard to the identification of Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) ”, says García Fresno.

At the moment, the OCP plans to carry out a second edition of the training program. To continue reinforcing the PBC measures, García Fresno maintains that the signing of agreements between institutions, allowing access to the Beneficial Ownership Database to as many people as possible and maintaining its quality (precision, updating and accuracy) are measures fundamental to achieve a consolidated work.

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