Ireland: Beneficial Ownership Of Trusts Regulations: Implications For Irish Unit Trusts

Last Updated: 20 February 2019
Article by Arthur Cox

On 29 January 2019, the Department of Finance published the European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Trusts) Regulations (S.I. No 16 of 2019) (the "Regulations"). These Regulations, which were immediately effective, transpose Article 31 of the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive ("4MLD") which requires trustees of express trusts to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and upto- date information in respect of the trust's beneficial owners and to keep and maintain a beneficial ownership register. The Regulations apply to any express trust whose trustees are resident in, or which is otherwise administered in, Ireland, including where shares are held on trust under an express declaration of trust.

The Regulations apply to Irish collective investment schemes that are constituted as trusts and so introduce a new requirement for these funds' trustees to obtain the information in relation to beneficial owners and to maintain a beneficial ownership register. Irish funds constituted as investment companies and ICAVs are already subject to these beneficial ownership requirements (for more information on the beneficial ownership requirements for these corporate entities, please see our previous briefing here). The Regulations specifically provide that a "collective investment undertaking trustee" for funds that are constituted as trusts includes the manager and/or operator of the fund. Therefore, both the depositary and the fund manager are trustees for these purposes and so are responsible for compliance with the Regulations. Accordingly, fund managers and depositaries of Irish unit trusts should ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place between them with regard to obtaining information on beneficial ownership and the maintenance of the beneficial ownership register.


In accordance with 4MLD, the Regulations provide that a beneficial owner is "any natural person(s) who ultimately owns or controls the customer and/or the natural person(s) on whose behalf a transaction or activity is being conducted". In the case of a trust this means all of the following:

  • the settlor(s) - in an Irish unit trust this is the fund manager;
  • the trustees(s) - in an Irish unit trust this is the depositary and the fund manager;
  • the protector(s), if any - an Irish unit trust will not have a protector;
  • the beneficiaries (or if they have not yet been determined, the class of persons in whose main interest the trust is established or operates), in an Irish unit trust these are the investors or class of investors in the unit trust; and
  • any other natural person who exercises ultimate control over the trust by direct ownership, by indirect ownership, or by any other means.

In the case of an Irish unit trust, as neither the manager nor depositary will be natural persons, the relevant beneficial owners will be the fund's underlying investors, or at a minimum the class of investors (who are natural persons), as well as any other natural person who exercises ultimate control over the trust by direct or indirect ownership or by any other means. Unlike the regulations applying to registers for corporate beneficial ownership, there is no default position with regard to naming senior managing officials as beneficial owners where individual beneficial owners cannot be determined. Also, there is no guidance or thresholds with regard to determining the ultimate control of the trust.


A trustee must take all reasonable steps to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information regarding the trust's beneficial owners. The trustee must therefore obtain the name, date of birth, nationality and residential address of each beneficial owner and enter this information on the trust's beneficial ownership register. The register must be called an "express trust (beneficial ownership) register".

The date upon which the beneficial owner is entered on the register as well as the date upon which a beneficial owner ceases to be such must be entered on the register. To ensure that the register is current, it must also be updated as soon as practicable when a person ceases to be a beneficial owner of the trust or there is any change which renders the details on the register incomplete or incorrect.

Where a trustee enters into an occasional transaction (which is any transaction that requires the application of customer due diligence measures under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010) or forms a business relationship with a designated person (such as a credit institution or other financial institution), it must inform the designated person in writing that it is acting as a trustee and, upon request, promptly provide all information identifying the beneficial owners of the trust. In the case of a class of beneficiaries, this requirement will be satisfied by specifying the class of persons that are beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries under the trust. The designated person must be notified within 14 days of the trustee becoming aware of any changes in these particulars.


Upon request a trustee must provide the Revenue Commissioners, the Central Bank of Ireland, the Minister for Justice or any other competent authority that the Minister may prescribe with timely access to the trust's register. This information may also be disclosed to any corresponding competent authority in another EU Member State. Further, under the Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive ("5MLD"), Member States are required to establish a central register of beneficial ownership of trusts, which will be accessible to competent authorities, Financial Intelligence Units (in Ireland, the Garda Síochána), obliged entities and any natural or legal person that can demonstrate a legitimate interest. This central register must be established by 10 March 2020. A publicly accessible central register of corporate beneficial ownership must also be established by 10 January 2020 (For more information on 5MLD, please see our previous briefings here and here).


A trustee must keep a record of the steps it has taken to identify the beneficial owners of the trust. These records must be retained for five years after the date that the final distribution under the trust is made and, subject to certain exceptions, must be destroyed at the end of this period.


Failure to comply with the requirements is an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €5,000.


The Regulations have been effective since 29 January 2019 and so managers of Irish unit trusts should now ensure compliance with the Regulations by:

  • establishing and maintaining a register;
  • ensuring that the relevant information is adequate, accurate and current;
  • establishing processes around:
  • the regular review of the register to ensure its adequacy, accuracy and that it is current;
  • the making and timing of required notifications under the Regulations; and
  • record retention.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions