Implementation of the forth AML directive in Bulgaria

The new Bulgarian Measures against Money Laundry Act 2018, which implements Directive (EU) 2015/849 (the 4th anti-money laundering directive (AMLD IV)), into Bulgarian law (“AMLA”) is already published in State Gazette. 

According to the AMLA, obligated persons such as banks and other credit institutions, other non-banking financial institutions (investment firms, collective investment schemes through their asset management companies, insurance companies, pension security companies and others), are required to establish the ultimate beneficial owner (“UBO”) of their clients, which are not individuals, upon the initiation of a business or professional relationship, the opening of an account, or the entry into a transaction amounting to more than EUR 15,000, or EUR 5,000 if the payment is to be made in cash. The identification of the beneficial owner shall be established in the course of a customer due diligence on the grounds of official documents, documents obtained from reliable and independent source and/or a declaration signed by the legal representative or proxy of the legal entity.

Though the AMLA’s provisions are immediately applicable without a transitional period, the legal framework remains to some extent uncomplete: there are a number of important details (as an example, the procedure for application of a simplified customer due diligence by the obligated persons or for filing an affidavit for identification of an UBO) that are to be set out at a next stage, by means of a secondary legislation, scheduled for adoption by the end of September 2018. Also, the AMLA grants to the obligated persons a 4-months term after the adoption of this secondary legislation, to update their internal rules and procedures in compliance with the law.   

All companies incorporated in Bulgaria are required under the AMLA to file information for their beneficial owners and their respective interests in the Bulgarian entities with the Bulgarian commercial register. Similarly, persons, who operate in Bulgaria in their capacity of trustees of trusts and similar formations incorporated in non-Bulgarian jurisdictions under applicable foreign laws, are required to file information for the beneficial owners of the respective trusts with the Bulgarian BULSTAT register. However, the AMLA provides that the Bulgarian Registry Agency, which (keeping both the commercial and the Bulstat registers) is the competent authority for the UBO-register in the country, must be prepared to accept applications for UBOs registration not now not later than 1 October 2018.