The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks and other financial institutions to unveil beneficial owners of accounts belonging to their customers.
The directive issued on Friday, is contained in a guideline titled: ‘Guidance on Ultimate Beneficial Owners of Legal Persons and Legal Arrangements.’
CBN said, the move is a fresh measure, aimed to address Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and Countering Proliferation Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction (CPF).
“Financial institutions are required to unveil the beneficial owners of legal persons and legal arrangements in line with provisions of extant AML/CFT laws and regulations”, the apex bank said, adding that the directive takes immediate effect
The CBN said it issued the guideline to financial institutions (FIs) under the its regulatory purview as defined under the Central Bank of Nigeria (Anti-Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Countering Proliferation Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Financial Institutions) Regulations, 2022, (CBN AML/CFT/CPF Regulations).
According to the apex bank, the objective of the guidance is to assist financial institutions in identifying and verifying the beneficial owners of legal persons and legal arrangements in line with extant AML/CFT/CPF laws and regulations.
The guideline states that, “beneficial owner (BO) refers to the natural person(s) who ultimately owns or controls a customer and/or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted. It also includes those persons who exercise ultimate effective control over a legal person or legal arrangement.”
Other criterion is the “beneficial owner holds at least 5 percent of the issued shares in the legal person either directly or indirectly; ii. controls a customer and/or the natural person (but not limited to) who: a. exercises at least 5 percent of the voting rights in the legal person either directly or indirectly; b. holds a right directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove majority of the directors or similar positions of the legal person.”
The CBN said in the guideline that aside from the details of the customer, financial institutions must obtain Beneficial Owner’s information from a public register like Corporate Affairs Commission “CAC”) and publicly available sources.
According to the new law, the records of account files and business correspondence, and results of any analysis undertaken, either in electronic or written form for at least five years following the termination of the business relationship.