Government approves new anti-shell law

The new rules may improve transparency in relations between the state, public administration and businesses, the justice minister says.

Lucia ŽitňanskáLucia Žitňanská (Source: Sme)

The state will have more demands on private companies with which it does business. This stems from the draft law on register of public sector’s partners, or anti-shell law, approved by the government at its August 17 session.

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The legislative process so far has now changed the main message of the law, but it rather brought some changes that improve it. They accepted the comments in parts that might be counterproductive or discriminatory, explained Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská (Most-Híd), as reported by the TASR newswire.

The new law is linked to the current valid law aimed at fighting money laundering. It may improve the transparency in relations between the state and public administration and businesses, Žitňanská added.

Read also: New law targets shell firms Read more 

It also concerns all forms of use of public funds. Companies wishing to obtain funding will have to be enlisted in the register of public sector’s partners and will have to publish their ownership structure, including end beneficiaries.

The register will be operated by the Žilina District Court. The firms will be registered by barristers, banks, tax advisors, auditors and also notaries who will be co-responsible for their veracity. In case they fail to provide it, they will be sanctioned.

The data in the register will be checked by the court which may use the help of respective state bodies, such as the financial police, TASR wrote.

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The duty to register will apply to all willing to use the money from state or municipal budgets, state funds, state or municipal joint-stock firms, but also firms acquiring receivables towards the state, municipalities and their joint-stock firms and suppliers of goods and services to health insurers.

The ministry also toughened up rules concerning public functionaries who will have to be registered as end beneficiaries. They will also have to state whether they are in any other companies or ownership structures. They will be sanctioned for stating untrue information. 

Also entrepreneurs who try to get their money back from companies in bankruptcy or restructuring process, if their claim is higher than €1 million, will have to reveal their ownership structure.

Also the non-profit subjects will have to register if they want to receive a state or public order.

Subjects exempt from registration concern companies listed on the stock exchange, banks to which state or a municipality repays debts and subjects that supply representation offices abroad, TASR wrote.

The law, however, will not help reveal the ownership structure of companies which receive licences for telecommunication services or mining from state, the Sme daily reported.

“This exceeds the scope of the government’s programme statement,” Žitňanská said.

Despite this, analysts consider the draft law a step forward.

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