The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has just published its report evaluating the anti-money laundering system in Spain, compiled over the course of the second half of 2014 and available at www.fatf-gafi.org.
In its evaluation, the FATF asserts that Spain has in place an exemplary system for enabling access to beneficial ownership (the natural person who ultimately controls the company), based on the information provided by the Single Notarial Index and the Beneficial Ownership Database of the General Council of the Notariat.
The executive summary contains the following excerpt: "Measures for enabling Access to beneficial ownership information, in particular, the notary profession’s Single Computerised Index, are an example of good practice in the context of Spain’s legal System (...) Spain’s System is generally effective in ensuring Access to basic and beneficial ownership information on legal persons. (...) Beneficial ownership information on Spanish companies is easily and rapidly available to competent authorities via the notary profession’s Single Computerised Index. (...) "Measures in Spain to manage and enabling access to beneficial ownership information are an example of good practice for other countries".
The location system in question is the Beneficial Ownership Database which the Ministry of Justice (through the General Council of the Notariat) has developed on the basis of the combined information provided by all notaries in Spain, whose involvement is required in the transfer of ownership of stakes in private limited liability companies, which account for more than 93% of all commercial companies in Spain. The involvement of a notary and the computerised processing of the information allow the chain of transfers of ownership of stock to be traced from the point of incorporation.
Since January 2004 all the information obtained by notaries is uploaded every fortnight into a Database (the Single Computerised Index), which is managed by the General Council of the Notariats. These data can be used to obtain a copy of the identity documents and public instruments.
The information included in the Single Computerised Index is available to the competent authorities undertaking investigations (Police, Civil Guard), the Special Public Prosecution Offices (Anti-Drugs, Anti-Corruption), the Customs Department and the SEPBLAC executive service, who have online access via an encrypted card system providing them with information in real time. Other authorities (courts and the Money Laundering Prevention Commission Secretariat) likewise have access to any specific information.
Alongside these databases, the OCP (Notarial Centralised Prevention Body) is performing work to establish a national database of Politically Exposed Persons, which will likewise be made available to the competent authorities.
In addition to maintaining information, the Single Computerised Index assists the OCP in fulfilling its obligation to detect suspicious operations by means of a risk factor scoring process recorded for individual or group operations, in all cases based on 60 risk indicators which include, for example, the establishment of companies by foreign legal entities.