As published on complianceweek.com, Wednesday 29 March, 2023.
The reporting requirements of the beneficial ownership information (BOI) registry being developed by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will likely be revised following harsh criticism from lawmakers and businesses.
Himamauli Das, FinCEN’s acting director, said in a statement to multiple media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, that the agency was “working to issue an updated beneficial ownership information reporting form as soon as possible.”
FinCEN and the Treasury Department did not respond to a request seeking confirmation of the statement.
FinCEN finalized its BOI reporting rule in September. In January, the agency unveiled the form reporting companies will have to use to comply with the rule. Companies that already file information about who controls their finances to state and tribal agencies will also have to file those details with FinCEN.
The registry is scheduled to go live in 2024.
On its BOI reporting form, FinCEN allowed applicants to check a box noting the filer was unable to identify all company applicants along with the beneficial owner’s name, date of birth, and address. The form also allowed filers to decline to provide a form of identification for the beneficial owner or owners.
In a March 20 letter to FinCEN, the American Bankers Association (ABA) expressed concerns about allowing filers to submit “unknown” or “unable to identify all company applicants” as options.
“The option to choose these response categories is inconsistent with Congress’s direction to FinCEN in the [Corporate Transparency Act], may allow bad actors to obscure the identity of company applicants and beneficial owners, and will significantly limit the utility of the information available through the registry to law enforcement, financial institutions, and others who may access the registry,” the ABA said.
Five senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), wrote a letter to FinCEN on March 15 questioning whether the agency would monitor BOI filings for accuracy.
“We are concerned that the proposed rule does not implement the congressional mandate that FinCEN ensure that beneficial ownership information reported to FinCEN be accurate, complete, and highly useful by implementing appropriate verification mechanisms,” they wrote.
A Treasury spokeswoman told the WSJ these options weren’t supposed to create loopholes but rather ensure FinCEN was not collecting “trash data.”
FinCEN is reviewing comments on the ownership reporting form, focusing on implementing reporting rules “in a way that maximizes its ability to conduct compliance and enforcement reviews,” the spokeswoman told the WSJ.