Beneficial Ownership Register
A bill on the establishment of a central Beneficial Ownership Register was submitted to the Storting (Norwegian parliament) in June this year. The bill proposes that law enforcement agencies should have effective access to the information in the register, and that this information should also be made public. More detailed provisions will be prepared in due course, depending on the outcome of the Storting’s debate on this new legislation.
This commitment is considered specific because it identifies a concrete anti-corruption mechanism (a central Beneficial Ownership Register). It refers to an initiative already underway in 2018 (the submission to the Storting of a bill on the establishment of such a register). It also specifies a concrete aspect of the bill – access to the register for law enforcement agencies – with progress intended through the preparation of more detailed provisions for this.
Although the commitment suggests a measurable action such as the preparation of more provisions regarding access to the Beneficial Ownership Register, it is conditioned to an external circumstance (the Stroting’s debate on the new legislation). This necessitated an update on the situation in order to fully consider if the work around the bill is suitable for monitoring. The government confirmed that Norway has adopted an act on the establishment of a beneficial ownership register, which is partly in force, and that the register is currently under development. On that basis, the commitment is considered measurable.
This measurability can be split in three parts: whether the bill was passed, whether it includes access to the register for law enforcement agencies and the public, and whether more detailed provisions have been made.
We have considered three aspects in monitoring this commitment: 1) whether the bill has been passed 2) whether it includes access to the register for law enforcement agencies and the public, and 3) whether more detailed provisions have been made.
The bill to establish a Beneficial Ownership Register was presented by the Ministry of Finance to the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) on 22 June 2018, shortly before the commitment was made, following the EU Money Laundering Directive requiring member states to establish a central register of beneficial owners. Norway is not an EU state, but it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA). Under Article 102 of the EEA Agreement, as soon as an EEA-relevant EU law has been adopted, the EEA Joint Committee takes a decision concerning the appropriate amendment of the EEA Agreement in order to allow the simultaneous application of the legislation in the EEA. The first time Article 102 was activated regarding money laundering was in 2002, concerning the EU Second Directive, which was incorporated into the EEA Agreement. The fourth EU Money Laundering Directive was incorporated in 2018 and the fifth directive in 2020.
The Norwegian Register of Beneficial Owners Act was adopted on 1 March 2019, and parts of it entered into force on 1 November 2021. These refer to the Act’s scope and the rules on procedures for identifying beneficial owners. The part on the regulation governing the obligation to register was omitted. Article 11 of the Act states that “everyone” will have access to the information in the register, barring the personal identity number. This right of access includes both law enforcement agencies and the public. Further details are included in the Regulations to the Act, Articles 3-9, which state that the public authorities specified in Articles 3-11 also have access to the information on personal identity numbers. We therefore consider the commitment fulfilled.
 Norwegian Ministry of Finance, Prop. 109 L (2017-2018) Act on the Register of Beneficial Owners, https://web.archive.org/web/20200815204042/https:/www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/prop.-109-l-20172018/id2604993/sec1
 Haavind, Beneficial Ownership Register – Update, https://haavind.no/en/news/beneficial-ownership-register/
 European Union (EU), Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32015L0849
 European Free Trade Association (EFTA), EEA Decision Making, https://www.efta.int/eea/eea-institutions/eea-decision-making
 Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The EEA Agreement and Norway’s other agreements with the EU, https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/upload/ud/vedlegg/europa/nou/meldst5_ud_eng.pdf
 European Free Trade Association (EFTA), EEA Joint Committee incorporates Anti-Money Laundering Directive, https://www.efta.int/EEA/news/EEA-Joint-Committee-incorporates-Anti-Money-Laundering-Directive-517771
 STORTINGET, Act on the Register of Beneficial Owners, https://www.stortinget.no/no/Saker-og-publikasjoner/Saker/Sak/?p=72826
 THOMMESSEN, The Norwegian Register of Beneficial Owners Act partially enters into force on 1 November 2021, https://www.thommessen.no/en/news/delvis-ikrafttredelse-av-lov-om-register-over-reelle-rettighetshavere-1-november-2021
 FATF, Public Statement on revisions to R.24. 4 March 2022, https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/fatfrecommendations/documents/r24-statement-march-2022.html