Early impacts of public registers of beneficial ownership: Slovakia

Impact

Slovakia’s public register has not only positively impacted its own government, but it has also created resources that have been impactful beyond national borders. The value of public registers is demonstrated by the Slovak register versus the closed Czech register. While the Czech Republic will also be implementing a public register as part of their obligations under the EU AMLD5, it is threatened to be undermined by, at the time of writing, by two potential loopholes in the draft definition. The draft may exempt individuals that would be identified as beneficial owners under Slovak law by including wording that suggests an exhaustive list of types of ownership and control as opposed to a substantive understanding of beneficial ownership. Additionally, the current draft includes an exemption for the Czech trusts that now form part of the Agrofert ownership structure. The Vahostav-SK case shows the impact beneficial ownership registers can have with the company fined for misrepresentation in its ownership information. It has also helped clean up public procurement and greatly reduced the risk to SMEs sub-contractors. Without the use of a public register, obtaining these results would not have been possible.